July 05, 2018

World Cup and penalty kick shootouts — a whole new idea

I'm a casual fan about the sport, but not an idiot about it. One of the biggest frustrations is the number of top-level matches, especially at the World Cup, that get decided in shootouts.

Shootouts are luck of the draw, on whether a keeper guesses right or not on his jump side anticipation, followed by luck on whether or not, if either does deke moves, a keeper or the shooter can fake the other out.

One way to avoid that would be to increase scoring chances.

IMO, the easy way to do that without going way overboard is widening the goal by, say, 4 feet to make it 28 feet wide. Or, less drastic might be to make it 26 feet wide. Emphasizing the other dimension, a 9-foot high goal would offer even less reward, but some more than now. A 9x26 might be less than 8x28, but fairly wide open.

I don't know if making the penalty box shallower than 18 yards, or narrower, or both, would benefit offense more, or defense more.

Eliminating offsides rules and allowing "cherry picking" sounds too drastic.

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Option B is reform the shootout.

Here's how.

Get rid of keepers.

Move shooters back to midfield.

Additional requirement is that ball cannot hit the ground more than three times, or something, before crossing the goal line and into the net.

A premium mix of accuracy plus leg strength on the line, without trying to outguess or outpsych a keeper, and thus, without luck.

And, contra England manager Gareth Southgate, while there is a degree of skill in a shootout, there's also still much more luck than would be in my system.

A friend of mine has since suggested another idea. Kind of like Capture the Flag, have a ball at center pitch and a player from each team on his goal line. They race for the ball at the center, and whoever gets it tries to score, one-on-one. Again, a time limit, say, 1 minute, would seem to be in order.

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