The player who steals the ball or gains possession should quickly look for “outlets” or players in better positions to move forward. This is not the time to dribble as the ball moves much quicker than any soccer player can. It is common to look to the “flanks” or the sides of the field where a forward or outside midfielder may be waiting in anticipation for a counterattack. When passing these players the ball, it is important to play the ball so that it allows he or she to move up the field quickly. Playing the ball behind a player slows the counterattack in soccer.
The goal is then to get behind the defense as quickly as possible by getting more players forward or “getting numbers forward” as is commonly used. It is then up to the soccer players to get a good opportunity to score by being both unselfish and selfish at times depending on what the defense is showing.
Below is a great example of a counterattack by the US Men’s National Soccer team against Costa Rica in group play in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
How to defend as a team to allow for more counterattacks in soccer
Here is an example during a soccer game between Brazil and Argentina in which Brazil masterfully provides low pressure defense to capitalize on counterattack opportunities.