The midfield is like the engine of a soccer team's attack. These players drive the team forward and often initiate the offense. In this example, the midfield would line up in a diamond formation with a defensive midfielder behind an attacking midfielder and a winger on either side.
It's not uncommon for a great defensive midfielder to go unnoticed for an entire game. This player sits just in front of the backline and is responsible for stymieing the opposing offense before it can break through the midfield. Once a defensive mid intercepts an attacking pass, the player then needs to look for a quick outlet pass to spark their own attack.
As mentioned earlier, the wingers will usually match up against the other team's outside backs. These players will be some of the fastest on the team with the ball at their feet, and are responsible for attacking from the flanks. The ability to deliver a pinpoint cross into the box is a must for this position.
Think of this position as the quarterback of a soccer team's offense. This player needs to be able to pick out a winger or forward with precision and execute the final pass before a goal. In short, the attacking midfielder is the ultimate playmaker.
Forwards have one key responsibility: goals. But forwards are also the first line of defense, so a willingness to track back and regain possession will go a long way with coaches. A two-forward system will typically feature one target forward and one withdrawn forward.
This player is the tip of the attacking spear and will need the physical presence to go toe-to-toe with the opposing team's center backs. Besides scoring, another primary responsibility of a target forward is to "hold up play;" in other words, receiving the ball with back to goal and maintaining possession long enough for the rest of the offense to join the attack. The target forward also serves as a decoy for the withdrawn forward.
The withdrawn forward will line up just underneath the target forward and is often the beneficiary of the holding up play tactic mentioned above. This position requires the ability to maintain possession in tight spaces while defenders close in, and also finish scoring chances under pressure.