Dream League Soccer 2021 is the latest entry in the popular mobile soccer series from First Touch Games — the same company that gave you the Score! franchise, which is more on the casual soccer/association football side of things. Dream League Soccer 2021 is now available for iOS and Android device owners alike, and just as it did in previous iterations, you can build a team as you navigate your way through an in-game universe of more than 4,000 real-life players — all available thanks to the game’s FifPro license.
The same eight leagues/divisions are back as well in Dream League Soccer 2021, as are various cups and competitions, and aside from Career Mode, there are several others to choose from, especially if you’re more into multiplayer, PvP action.
For those who are not familiar with the DLS series, this is not one of those casual titles that can be picked up in just one day. In fact, it may take you quite a while before you master everything that needs to be mastered. This shouldn’t be surprising due to the high-end graphics and plethora of fictional/fictionally constructed teams with real-life players.
But we believe we’ve got what you need if you’re trying to get through your first season in the Amateur Division as a beginner, intermediate, or returning player who hasn’t played for a while. Check out this Dream League Soccer 2021 beginner’s guide, where we’ve come up with 14 tips and tricks that cover the basics of the game and much more than that.
1. The Basics Of Dream League Soccer 2021
Those who have played the previous version of Dream League Soccer will be glad to know that you can restart right where you left off if you had a saved game running at the time you deleted the game from your phone. But for those who are playing the game for the first time in the series’ history, or for the first time in years, the concept behind the game is that all the world’s football leagues have closed down, resulting in everyone in these leagues getting reassigned and ending up on brand-new teams across eight leagues.
These leagues are arranged in terms of talent level, and if you’re a first-time player, you will be managing a team from the eighth league, which is known as the Academy Division. That means you will be handling a squad full of common players with ratings in the 50s and 60s, and when it comes to the tutorial match, you may have some difficulty picking up the win.
Fortunately for new players, you’ll be given a free superstar player, meaning someone with a rating in the 80s and someone who could immediately step up as your best player on the pitch — at least until you add rare players and replace the rest of your original starters. This player will be your Captain, and you can choose him after you enter your team name and manager name.
You’ll have several top-tier players to pick from when selecting a Captain, and you’ll need to take your desired play style into account. Of course, you should go for a forward if you like a fast-paced, high-scoring style or a defensive back if you’re more about keeping things slow and eking out one-nil wins over your opponents. Meanwhile, midfielders are recommended if you’re aiming for a balanced attack that’s solid on both ends.
Although there are definitely some graphical improvements on Dream League Soccer 2021, the basic concept of the game’s controls remain the same as they always have been. On the bottom left side of the screen, you’ll see a virtual joystick that allows you to control the player with the ball on offense, or the player ideally closest to the ball on defense. There are three buttons on the bottom right side, and they all serve different purposes depending on whether you’re playing offense or defense. Tap on A for hard, high kicks, B for soft, low kicks, and C for lofted kicks on offense, and when you’re on defense, use A if you’re trying to pull off a slide tackle, B if you’re pressuring an opponent with the ball, and C to switch to the player nearest to the ball.
Beyond those basic controls, you can do skill moves by double tapping on the screen. This works when you’re dribbling the ball, but you can also perform a skill move if the ball is in the air. Also bear in mind that you’ll typically want to use B on defense when trying to get the ball back from the opponent — slide tackles may be exciting and effective if timed properly, but they can also be construed as dirty tactics if poorly timed, thus resulting in a foul, or worse, a yellow card or a red card.
With all that in mind, it shouldn’t surprise any new player that Dream League Soccer 2021 is, like its predecessors, not a pure soccer management game like Football Manager. You’ll be controlling your players on the field, and it can even be said that the coaching decisions you make will be secondary to properly timing your goal attempts or dispossessing an opponent as cleanly as possible. It won’t be easy if you’re far more accustomed to management-only titles, but based on our experience playing games in the DLS series, it shouldn’t take too long before you master the game’s controls and have a feel of proper passing, shooting, and tackling mechanics.
Not quite sure of which button does what once the tutorial stage is completed? You can replay the tutorial at any time (except the tutorial match) by tapping on More in the main screen, going to Training, and choosing Tutorial. You can quit in the middle of the tutorial once you’ve gotten the information you need, or if you prefer to absorb everything to make sure you’ve got things down pat, you can redo the stage from start to finish.
2. Getting Started In Career Mode
Now that you know how to use the joystick and the controls, let’s move on to Career Mode, which is the mode you’ll likely be playing most often. Your tutorial match will count as your first league match, and there are a total of 15 matches for you to finish high enough in your division to get promoted to the next one. If you end up losing that match, that’s okay — even with your Captain in place, he’s only one player in a team full of scrubs.
You won’t be expected to win right off the bat, but that’s why you’ll have several opportunities going forward to improve your lineup and recruit new players to replace your original starters. All new players get a reward of 1,500 coins (the common currency) and 75 gems (the premium currency), and these can both be used to acquire new players, though we’ll be discussing that a little later on in this guide.
All matches in Dream League Soccer 2021 last a total of 90 simulated minutes, with 45-minute halves. In real time, that would be equivalent to about four to five minutes per half, with a quick intermission period where you can make changes at halftime or catch your breath before controlling your team in the second half.
You can earn coins at the end of each match in Career Mode, regardless of the result, and you can earn bonus coins as well by watching an optional ad video. It’s good that the game gives consolation coin prizes to losing managers, as that currency will certainly come in handy when it comes to upgrading one’s roster in preparation for the next fixture(s).
3. Familiarize Yourself With Your Players
You can access the Team Management screen by tapping on Career and going to Team Management — this is where you can choose your starting eleven for your next match, as well as configure set pieces, choose formations, improve your players’ attributes, and help them recover their energy.
We will, however, focus mainly on your players in this tip, as we believe it is important that you familiarize yourself with your lineup before proceeding to your first actual, non-tutorial match. You’ll also want to reacquaint yourself with your last roster if you’re a returning manager!
When it comes to player attributes, each non-goalkeeper has eight, and you can view them by tapping on any one of your starters or substitutes to view them. Speed (SPE) is self-explanatory and refers to how fast they move on the field, Acceleration (ACC) refers to how quickly they can start moving at top speed, Stamina (STA) determines how slowly or how quickly they get tired, Condition (CON) refers to how prone they are to injuries, Strength (STR) is, again, self-explanatory and refers to how well they can overpower opponents on tackles or pressures, Tackling (TAC) pertains to their tackling technique, and the final two, Passing (PAS) and Shooting (SHO) are arguably the most self-explanatory attributes of all.
Goalkeepers, meanwhile, have a slightly different set of attributes. Speed, Acceleration, Conditioning, Stamina, Tackling, and Passing all carry over to your keepers, but they have two specific attributes that are unique to them. These are Goalkeeper Handling (GKH), which shows you how well they can handle the ball, and Goalkeeper Reflexes (GKR), which rates them on how quick they react to shot attempts that come their way.
Depending on the player’s position, some attributes may be more important than others. Obviously, you want good Strength and Tackling for your defenders, good Passing and Shooting for your forwards, and a good balance of those attributes for your midfielders. Physical attributes such as Speed, Strength, Conditioning, and Stamina will always make some players of the same position better than others, so make sure to pay attention to those as well when analyzing your players’ attributes!
Aside from the aforementioned attributes, you will also see each player’s overall rating, position, nationality, height in centimeters, and dominant foot on the upper part of their cards.
4. The Game Will Make The Management Process Simpler
We did mention above that Dream League Soccer 2021 isn’t your typical management game. That’s because we cannot stress enough that the game’s main focus is still your mastery of the controls, meaning your ability to make good passes, fool the goalkeeper and the defenders en route to a clinical goal, and regain possession of the ball without having to resort to late or dirty tackles.
Given how important it is to properly control your players and make sure that, with your use of the controls, you are winning as many matches as possible, Dream League Soccer 2021 remains the same as its predecessors in the sense that it sort of spoon-feeds players when it comes to certain aspects of coaching or management. That’s also why you shouldn’t sweat it out too much if you forgot to make a halftime substitution.
Making in-game substitutions is very simple — any time during a match, you can access the pause menu and go to Team Management in order to drag and drop players from the bench to the field. You can, of course, do this as well during halftime, as we stated, and that’s usually when you’ll want to make some changes, especially if you’re trying to come from two goals down or more or if you want to rest your top players during a blowout.
But if you forget to make those subs or simply elected not to do so, you will get auto-sub prompts in the middle of matches when the game detects that a certain player may be too fatigued to play at his full potential. That means you will be allowed to focus on the more important things, such as maintaining possession with crisp, accurate passing or aggressively attacking the opponent’s goal to mount a late rally. In short, the game ensures that substitutions are the least of your worries, or close to it.
While the auto-sub prompts can take the load off many a player/manager, Dream League Soccer 2021 is still one of those games where, when you’re not in the middle of a match, you cannot auto-select the best starting lineup for your formation. If you access the Team Management screen in order to set your starting lineup for the next fixture, you still won’t see any “Auto” button to simplify the process of choosing your best eleven, but if it’s any consolation, dragging and dropping is a very simple way of managing your substitutions.
5. Focus On Short Passes At First
There are a number of things you can do in the early stages that could help you win more matches, even if you’re up against an opponent with a better star rating. These include focusing mostly on short passes to ensure that you’re as accurate as possible— that means primarily using the B button when passing the ball from one player to another. Refrain from using the A button unless you’re trying to clear the danger and get the ball away from your side of the field.
However, you should also make sure that you’re properly targeting your passes and not randomly hitting B the moment you’re under pressure from the opposing team. Panic-tapping on B will invariably result in the other team getting possession, so be absolutely sure that you aren’t under tight pressure, and always try passing to players who don’t have several opponents surrounding them.
It also may take some time to master this, but it’s important to act quickly when passing the ball. Don’t linger too long with the ball, and don’t try to do too much with it — passing at the last second will usually lead to dispossession, so be as quick on your fingers as you are careful!
6. Avoid Randomly Hitting The C Button To Switch Players On Defense
It isn’t uncommon for players of action-based soccer games to try for that good old fashioned defensive workaround of spamming the switch button in order to quickly move from one player to the next while, in theory, letting the AI handle most of the defensive duties. In theory, it sounds like a plausible way to avoid responsibility on the defensive end. However, it very, very seldom works in actual practice, and that is true in the Dream League Soccer series. In fact, you may notice that the game will automatically switch for you on defense if it notices that you aren’t hitting the C button to control the player closest to the ball!
We understand that defense is arguably much less glamorous than offense — gaming controls are typically skewed toward offense, and that doesn’t just apply to mobile soccer games, or sports games in general. But take note that the players on your team who are being controlled by the AI in Dream League Soccer 2021 will usually perform the most obvious, simplistic action on the field, and that really won’t help you get the ball back in your possession.
The onus will have to be on you when your team is playing defense, so when tapping on the C button, do so with the intent of controlling the player who’s closest to the opponent with the ball, and make sure you’re tackling or pressuring them smartly!
Speaking of tackling and pressuring, that’s going to be the topic of our very next tip.
7. How To Avoid Reckless Tackles Or Cluttering Opponents
We’ve mentioned it a few times already in this guide. There is a method to the madness when using the defensive buttons in Dream League Soccer 2021, and mastering this method will be the key to avoiding fouls, which lead to free kicks and a potentially good scoring opportunity for your opponent.
Of course, that’s also the key to avoiding yellow flags, which result in the same consequence, plus the burden of avoiding a second yellow for that player. And the last thing you want to get is a red flag, because that will result in the player getting sent off with no option to substitute him — you don’t want to be one man short (or more) against a team where all eleven men are still on the field!
As we mentioned, your best bet is to stick to the B button when playing defense, but you should also be careful when using this technique, because you may end up cluttering your opponent, or effectively impeding their progress. That could be considered a foul at the very least, so avoid making herky-jerky motions with the joystick while pressuring your opponents. You may even have more luck simply trying to intercept your opponents without having to tap on B.
Using the A button to slide tackle, on the other hand, is a high-risk, high-reward option, so if you’re new to the game, it may be better to avoid using it. But if you should hit on A, there are some bad habits you may want to avoid, such as attempting a slide tackle on your opponent from behind, which is a shortcut to getting a yellow card, or worse, a red card. Also, don’t let the player you’re trying to dispossess hang on to the ball for too long before you attempt the tackle. This may be considered a late challenge, and this usually results in yellow cards getting handed out to guilty players.
At the end of the day, playing smart defense is the best way to avoid the consequences of having too many yellow cards or even a single red card. Players who get red-carded are automatically suspended for one match, and if that happens to your best player and you don’t have much bench depth behind him, odds are you’ll be in a fair bit of trouble against your next opponent, especially if their star rating is higher than yours.
8. Keep A Close Eye On Each Player’s Stamina Bar
It’s no joke having to play the full 90 minutes of a soccer match. Running around the pitch with little time to take a breather could take the toll on one’s legs in the real world, and that is also the case in the Dream League Soccer 2021 universe. All players lose some stamina through the course of each match, though they get their stamina bars refilled a little once the match is completed.
Depending on how intense their actions on the pitch are, and depending on their attributes, some players may get fatigued faster than others do, so it won’t be uncommon to see players with orange stamina bars amid a lineup where most others have a full, green stamina bar to work with for the next match.
What does this mean as far as managing your squad is concerned? That means you’ll need to visit the Team Management screen before each match and make sure you’re not starting anyone with an orange stamina bar — or at the very least, as few players with orange stamina bars as possible. Again, you’ll have to make the changes manually due to the lack of an auto-select function.
And you may not have enough depth at certain positions, or enough reserves who play the same position. That could force you to play someone out of position in the meantime — this will result in their overall rating declining, but as long as their rating remains solid enough in relation to the rest of the squad, it’s a contingency measure that might not hurt you too much in the long run.
As a bonus tip, you also have the option to pay some coins in order to restore your players’ Stamina to 100 percent before your next match.
9. Hire Coaches In Order To Improve Your Current Players
While you can always shop around in the transfer market to get high-level players who could improve your lineup’s overall rating and improve your chances of beating tougher opponents, you can also work on the players you currently have by hiring Coaches. When a Coach works with one of your players, they will earn permanent statistical bonuses as they edge closer to their maximum development potential, and regardless of which Coach you choose, each of them has a breakout training chance — think of this as the game’s equivalent of critical hits, where a breakout results in an even bigger statistical improvement.
There are three different types of Coaches depending on their specialty — you can choose Technical, which improves Ball Control, Distribution, Shooting, and/or Tackling, Fitness, which improves Strength, Stamina, Speed, and/or Acceleration, or Goalkeeping, which improves Shot Stopping and/or Handling. For each of these specialties, there are three different rarities of Coach. Those considered Common train only one player, improving two random attributes by tow points each.
Rare Coaches train two players and improve three random attributes by three points each. Finally, Legendary Coaches improve three players and work on all four attributes, improving them by five points each. Generally, Common Coaches cost 25 gems, Rare ones cost 75 gems, and Legendary ones will set you back by 150 gems. Coaches are all one-use-only, which means you’ll need to hire another one and pay the same price in gems in order to organize another training session.
Ideally, it would be nice if you can choose the players you wish to train when you hire a Coach. However, Dream League Soccer has always had this mechanic where the players trained by any given Coach are completely random. That means everyone on your team — may they be part of your starting eleven or sitting on your bench — is eligible to be coached when you hire one, and that could also mean your weakest players might be the ones randomly selected for the training sessions!
That means it might not be too advisable to rely much on Coaches if you have to pay gems for them, but if you’re getting them for free, there’s no harm in taking advantage of the opportunity. For what it’s worth, improving your worst player will still result in an increase to your team rating!
10. You Can Get Free Coaches By Releasing Players You No Longer Need
We did mention above that hiring a Coach will generally cost you some gems. If you guessed this means you can also get them for free, then you are correct. The trade-off, however, would be releasing one of your players for one coach, but considering how often you may be improving your lineup in a variety of ways, the time will eventually come to let some of your weaker players go.
Once you release a player, you will get a Coach in return, though just to keep your expectations reasonable, you will almost always get a Common Coach, as the rarity of the Coaches you receive will be the same as that of the players you drop. You can also choose the Coach’s specialization (Fitness or Technical) when releasing a player, except if you’re dropping a goalkeeper, in which case you’ll be getting a Goalkeeping Coach.
All this means that once you’ve sufficiently strengthened your lineup and no longer have any common players with ratings in the 60s or lower, you should be getting Rare Coaches on the regular if you’re trying to stay competitive in the higher leagues!
11. Acquiring Players Via Live Transfer
In the Transfers screen, you will see a variety of other ways in which you can beef up your lineup and build a team that could make it to the next highest league come promotion time. The Live Transfers section features players that you can purchase outright with your coins, and these players will vary in talent and rarity, with higher-rated players, of course, costing more than those who may not be that much better than the ones you currently have.
There are nine players available per day in the Live Transfers section, and while there’s no guarantee you will always see a player who can fill your needs at a given position, you’ll want to take this route if you’re trying to address weaknesses at specific positions.
As you may notice at the bottom of the section, the game will advise you to “improve your team to attract better players.” This simply means that the quality of available transfers will improve as does your team rating — don’t be discouraged if you see a bunch of Common players available when you’re just starting out!
12. Using Scouts And Agents To Sign Players
In addition to the Live Transfers section section, you can go to the Scout section to recruit players and get them at a discounted price. Take note that the price you see for each Scout is NOT the price you need to pay to actually acquire the players they find — we need to make this clear in case some of you may have missed the “fine print” on top of the screen. Using a Common Scout costs 75 coins, using a Rare one costs 240, and using a Legendary one costs 500 — each Scout will get you two players, and as their rarity increases, so would your chances of acquiring a Rare or Legendary player once everything is said and done.
Once you’ve tapped on the Scout of your choice, they will get you two players at random, and you will have four hours to decide whether to sign them or not at the discounted prices. We were lucky enough to get a choice of Lionel Messi and/or Harry Kane when we used a Legendary Scout, and while it was a tough decision, we ultimately went with the Argentine superstar as our big signing, not just because of his iconic status but also because he played a position where we needed some help. That simply means you should avoid the temptation of overspending on two top-tier players when only one will do!
Agents, on the other hand, cost gems if you wish to employ them, and they are again divided into three rarities — Common ones cost 30 gems, Rare ones cost 150, and Legendary ones cost 300. The advantages of using an Agent are that you can get a guaranteed player of the same rarity as the Agent, and that you wouldn’t need to pay a second time in order to add the player to your squad. In other words, the Agent fee is all-inclusive. The disadvantages, meanwhile, are the fact that gems are much harder to come by than coins, and that much like you would when using a Scout, you will be given a player of a random position!
13. Complete More Achievements Under Statistics To Earn More Gems
Dream League Soccer 2021’s achievements section, for all that it’s worth, is still known as Statistics, and as we’ve said when covering previous versions of the game, such a section seems more apropos for viewing your team’s top goalscorers. To be clear, you can actually view a variety of player and team statistics in this section, but this is also where you can view your season goals — you may be asked to place at a certain ranking in your current division, reach a certain round in cup competition, win a certain number of games in your division, or score at least a certain number of goals during said league play.
You will earn some gems once you complete each of these achievements, so make sure to visit this page regularly in order to jog your memory on what you need to pull off before the end of the season! Now if you’re wondering how you can view the actual stats, just tap on Statistics and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can view your upcoming fixtures and results, your current league’s standings, and the results of the cups you’re entered in.
Tapping on the league standings will allow you to view the league table, which is the default view, as well as the fixtures and results per week, individual statistics for everyone who’s presently on your team under My Team, and the top scorers in your league. That’s a wealth of data that you can access, and it can help you determine which players are playing up to their potential and which ones aren’t being used as well as they should be.
You can access the Statistics menu by taping on My Club, but that’s not the only aspect of My Club that you need to pay close attention to, especially as the season is drawing to a close.
14. Upgrade Your Stadium Seating In Order To Get Promoted
Next to the Statistics menu under My Club, you’ll see the Stadium and Facilities section, and once you tap here, you will be taken to a map of your club’s facilities — Stadium, Commercial, Medical, Training, and Accommodation. We will hopefully tackle most of these at a later time, but the one you will really need to pay close attention to is your Stadium.
Tapping on the word “Stadium” will allow you to view your current capacity, your coin bonus for each game you play in your home stadium, and the minimum number of seats needed in order to qualify for the next highest league. Tapping on the actual Stadium will allow you to choose from a variety of pitch patterns that generally cost 100 coins in order to set up — this would mostly be for cosmetic purposes, and would definitely be secondary to the main purpose of visiting the Stadium menu in the first place.
That main purpose would be to add more seats in order for your team to qualify for promotion to the next highest league — use the arrows next to Auto Build Capacity to choose the capacity you want to achieve when building new seats, then tap on Preview to see the price of the upgrades.
There you have it! This wraps up our beginner’s guide for Dream League Soccer 2021. If you have anything to add to our list of tips and tricks, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comment area below!