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Old 07-07-2019, 03:19 PM
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Two football (soccer) hypotheticals


These the result of watching the Women's World Cup among some interested folks who admit to not knowing a great deal about the sport:

1. What would be the effect of a rule that said a match whose score was level at the end of play would be decided not by penalty kicks, but by shots-on-goal achieved during the match?

2. Suppose the USWNT faced the USMNT. How many of the latter (goalkeeper excepted) would need to be sent off the field to make the match approximately even.
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Old 07-07-2019, 03:24 PM
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1. Then this would really worsen the quality of play. You would see teams taking all sorts of lousy or meaningless shots-on-goal just to hope that they would prevail on this tiebreaker should the game end in a tie. Especially, if still tied in extra time, teams might begin kicking the ball pointless towards the opposing keeper just to have it count as a shot on goal. And what exactly is a "shot on goal" can get controversial; what if it was meant to be a pass, or the ball might not actually have gone into the goal anyway?


2. My WAG is that it would take maybe something like 11 women vs. 6 men. The USWMNT has been absolutely hammered before by mere teenaged guys when playing in scrimmages. With a shortfall of five men, the American women would get two extra undefended attackers that they could take more good shots on goal (the goal is always huge to defend, even when it's a male keeper.) Conversely, they could also budget three more defenders on defense, because a woman defender against a male attacker 1-on-1 is not going to go well for the woman.

Last edited by Velocity; 07-07-2019 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 07-07-2019, 03:44 PM
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You would see teams taking all sorts of lousy or meaningless shots-on-goal just to hope that they would prevail on this tiebreaker should the game end in a tie.
I expect this is right - but a strategy of wasting scoring opportunities to bump up shots-on-goal is unlikely to be optimal.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:59 PM
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1. What would be the effect of a rule that said a match whose score was level at the end of play would be decided not by penalty kicks, but by shots-on-goal achieved during the match?
I think the largest problem with this is, who determines what is a "shot on goal"? It comes down to somebody's judgment. "That was a shot!" "No, it was an errant pass." Even something that is "decided on the pitch," like the team with the fewest fouls called, would result in controversy, with just about every call, or non-call, being questioned.

The next problem is, what happens if those are tied as well?
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:22 PM
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I expect this is right - but a strategy of wasting scoring opportunities to bump up shots-on-goal is unlikely to be optimal.
Teams wouldn't do it in the 90 minutes of regulation, but if it was extra time and things were winding down, you would start to see some farcical stuff.


England and Germany tied 0-0, extra time about to end, both sides exhausted:

English keeper booms ball downfield with all his might (a "shot on goal"), German keeper collects the ball, promptly kicks it right back downfield (another "shot on goal"), English keeper picks ball up and promptly booms it back down. Etc. etc.

Or, you would something equally farcical: Say England and Germany are tied 60-60 on 'shots on goal' as extra time is winding down. Now with just a few seconds or minutes remaining, the Germans get cheeky and intentionally pass the ball among themselves, wasting time, but then right before the keeper blows the whistle, the Germans boom a deep kick downfield in the direction of the English goal. The ref blows the whistle before the English are able to kick the ball back. That's it! Germany edges England 61-60 on shots on goal!
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Old 07-07-2019, 08:01 PM
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Keep in mind that a shot is not always a shot on goal. To be the latter, it has to at least be destined for the goal, absent something/someone getting in the way.

As for question #2, it's hard to say. Probably the USWNT could hold their own against the USMNT if the men were down two players. That would allow the women to budget an extra offensive player and an extra midfielder to narrow the space within which the men would have to play. It's hard to say, though; the lack of two men on the field might allow for a more open game, which would be a dream for the men. In a 10 on 11 game, I'd put money on the men's team every time.
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Old 07-07-2019, 10:00 PM
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Probably the USWNT could hold their own against the USMNT if the men were down two players.
It seems to be widely reported that world-level women's teams occasionally practice against good high-school-level boys teams, to which they often lose. If so, it seems a lot more than two men would have to sit down to make things even.
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Old 07-07-2019, 10:15 PM
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An average shot is worth something like a tenth of a goal. I expect if the game is late and it's still tied, then yeah, forfeiting a good attempt at goal for a lead in the tiebreaker, is probably the right thing to do.

The men could win as long as they have enough guys to have a decent bunker, probably 8, maybe 7? Force low probability shots, then have a fast counter.
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Old 07-07-2019, 10:19 PM
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It seems to be widely reported that world-level women's teams occasionally practice against good high-school-level boys teams, to which they often lose. If so, it seems a lot more than two men would have to sit down to make things even.
High school age teams, not high school level teams.

The most widely reported match you might have seen was against a FC Dallas youth team. The full USWNT would win most high school state tournaments, although I imagine the big school divisions, especially in Texas and California wouldn't go well for them.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:44 AM
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Is questioning the rules of the game and suggesting new ones a common practice amongst US sports fans in general? Or just for soccer? because I've noticed that everytime we can international involving US teams, the rule changers come out here in force!
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:04 AM
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I think the largest problem with this is, who determines what is a "shot on goal"? It comes down to somebody's judgment. "That was a shot!" "No, it was an errant pass." Even something that is "decided on the pitch," like the team with the fewest fouls called, would result in controversy, with just about every call, or non-call, being questioned.

The next problem is, what happens if those are tied as well?
And imagine the thrilling climax to the World Cup Final, as a panel of adjudicators pore endlessly over 90 minutes of replay footage, while the stadium full of fans wait patiently rioting.

Of course, they could rule on shots on goal etc as the match progresses, but the whole idea is fraught with problems.

Last edited by RobDog; 07-08-2019 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:50 AM
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Also, I don't see why shots on goal are something that should be inherently worth rewarding, any more than a basketball team heaving balls in the direction of the basket or baseball batter taking swings at pitches is worth rewarding. It should be about quality, not quantity.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:57 AM
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Is questioning the rules of the game and suggesting new ones a common practice amongst US sports fans in general? Or just for soccer? because I've noticed that everytime we can international involving US teams, the rule changers come out here in force!
It's general, but soccer touches a particular raw nerve in that it's "the sport everybody else* insists in liking best", so a bit of both. And this is a forum where our American posters know they'll find people who do like that sport best, making it a good place to ask.


* Not really. But they do ask about the rules of rugby or cricket when they do encounter them, too. And of the games which are popular in the US, including those the questioner played in HS.
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Last edited by Nava; 07-08-2019 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:57 AM
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Is questioning the rules of the game and suggesting new ones a common practice amongst US sports fans in general? Or just for soccer?
There are plenty of discussions about the rule changes in the NFL and MLB, and to some extent the NBA and NHL. What constitutes a legal catch in football is a never ending point of soreness. Every year there are rule changes and/or changes in emphasis that impact the game, so people are constantly looking to suggest additional changes or tweeks.

In baseball it's more about changing rules to make the game go faster. Also lately the hot topic is doing something to restrict the defense from shifting so dramatically.
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:09 AM
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Is questioning the rules of the game and suggesting new ones a common practice amongst US sports fans in general? Or just for soccer? because I've noticed that everytime we can international involving US teams, the rule changers come out here in force!

It’s a common topic of discussion because there are frequent rules changes in the big 4 USA sports. I don’t tally follow the NBA so I can’t speak for that, but certainly there are rule changes and debates for baseball, American football (both college and pro) and ice hockey at the NHL level.
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Old 07-08-2019, 01:36 PM
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Is questioning the rules of the game and suggesting new ones a common practice amongst US sports fans in general? Or just for soccer? because I've noticed that everytime we can international involving US teams, the rule changers come out here in force!
Yes, American sports fans often discuss tweaking the rules of any sport they follow. Ask a group of baseball fans about the designated hitter, but be aware that the ensuing discussion may get heated.
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Old 07-08-2019, 01:37 PM
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Instead of shots on goal as a tiebreaker, how about number of corner kicks awarded? Corner kicks are unambiguous, and this would reward aggressive play.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:43 PM
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Instead of shots on goal as a tiebreaker, how about number of corner kicks awarded? Corner kicks are unambiguous, and this would reward aggressive play.
This one always crops in these debates. You'd up with ludicrous situations where teams are desperately trying to manufacture corners rather than score goals.
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:37 PM
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If anything, I'd say to give the tiebreaker to the team with the fewer shots on goal (i.e., who had a higher proportion of them be successful).
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:43 PM
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I am baffled by the penalty kick - it favours the shooter about 4 to 1. Why not move it back just a meter or so and give the goalie a chance?
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:47 PM
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I am baffled by the penalty kick - it favours the shooter about 4 to 1. Why not move it back just a meter or so and give the goalie a chance?
This is similar to the MLS tiebreaker kick. You're allowed to dribble in, but the goalkeeper is allowed to rush as well.
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:57 PM
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I am baffled by the penalty kick - it favours the shooter about 4 to 1. Why not move it back just a meter or so and give the goalie a chance?
A penalty in the normal course of play is supposed to be punitive, so that ratio is fine. A penalty shootout in a knock-out game isn't perfect, but it is dramatic, and is a genuine test for the penalty takers.

It's not like IFAB haven't experimented with ways to decide tied (after 90 mins) knock-out games - it's just that the experiments never really worked out as expected.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:41 PM
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If anything, I'd say to give the tiebreaker to the team with the fewer shots on goal (i.e., who had a higher proportion of them be successful).
I like that. Scoring percentage. Though I wonder if that might make games too conservative, where players are worried about taking risky shots (or trained not to do it) and would make the games lower-scoring. Would that improve the game?

But I still think the idea has merit.

Last edited by Atamasama; 07-08-2019 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:38 PM
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It's not like IFAB haven't experimented with ways to decide tied (after 90 mins) knock-out games - it's just that the experiments never really worked out as expected.
What exactly have they experimented with other than overtime, sudden-death overtime, and penalty kicks? What about the MLS "penalty kicks", alternating corner kicks, alternating 3 on 2 (+goalie) scrimmages? In the latter two, the ball stays in play until the goalie holds it, the offense kicks it out of bounds or the defense clears it past some line to be determined. I'd prefer any of those to penalty kicks.
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:11 PM
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What exactly have they experimented with other than overtime, sudden-death overtime, and penalty kicks? What about the MLS "penalty kicks", alternating corner kicks, alternating 3 on 2 (+goalie) scrimmages? In the latter two, the ball stays in play until the goalie holds it, the offense kicks it out of bounds or the defense clears it past some line to be determined. I'd prefer any of those to penalty kicks.
Mostly to try and shorten the extra-time period. Golden goal (and briefly Silver, but I don't recall how that latter one worked). Anyway, it turns out decent teams just game things, and they mostly ended up not working as intended. Leagues are, of course, free to experiment in their own competitions.

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 07-08-2019 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:30 PM
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Is questioning the rules of the game and suggesting new ones a common practice amongst US sports fans in general? Or just for soccer? because I've noticed that everytime we can international involving US teams, the rule changers come out here in force!
It's just that we're trying to figure out ways to fix soccer so that it's, y'know, interesting. Fun. Good. After landing on the moon and winning two world wars, we just got used to doing things better than everyone else. It's in our blood.
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:48 PM
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I've seen top male teams hold their own against each other 11 v. 9, so for women I would at least say 11 v 8 vs a top male high school team to be competitive, 11 v. 7 or 6 for a top male team. This assumes that the game is played with no restrictions on physical play.

I wonder, in male v women friendlies, are the males instructed to cut back on the grab ass and grab balls that is standard in the male game, especially during free kicks? Or is it anything goes?

And how to improve the game- stop the penalties for fouls that were not going to result a chance on goal- I am at the top of the box firing a pass backwards towards my own goal, its hits an opponents arm, ridiculous penalty for me!

Shots on goal are any shots that would have went in if not for hitting an obstacle, so once every few minutes someone could do that relatively easily if they wanted to, so wouldnt automaitcally be proof of better play.. Plus if you hit the bar 10 times, coming within inches of a goal each time, you have no shots on goal.

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Old 07-08-2019, 10:08 PM
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It seems to be widely reported that world-level women's teams occasionally practice against good high-school-level boys teams, to which they often lose. If so, it seems a lot more than two men would have to sit down to make things even.
Being down two players is a serious handicap. The team with the advantage has two players free at any point in time. That's very difficult to defend against. Down three players would be almost impossible to win.

Top-level U-19 men's teams are very good and very fast.
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Old 07-08-2019, 10:34 PM
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I wonder, in male v women friendlies, are the males instructed to cut back on the grab ass and grab balls that is standard in the male game, especially during free kicks? Or is it anything goes?
Wait... What? I played soccer in high school, what “grab ass” and “grab balls” are you talking about? That was never a thing!

Unless that’s some slang we didn’t use when I played...
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:07 PM
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Wait... What? I played soccer in high school, what “grab ass” and “grab balls” are you talking about? That was never a thing!

Unless that’s some slang we didn’t use when I played...
To gain position on a restart, like a throw in, or especially on a corner kick, it's not unknown to have players grab each other in the genital region. Obviously, this discomforts the guy receiving the attention, and he might recoil or otherwise abandon the position the grabber seeks to occupy. Apocryphal at the high school level I played at too. We still watched out for the tactic.

An American football version is to punch a jumping defensive lineman (when he's trying to deflect a pass or kick) in the solar plexus. Source, my father who played D1 football in the 1960s.
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:10 PM
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Being down two players is a serious handicap. The team with the advantage has two players free at any point in time. That's very difficult to defend against. Down three players would be almost impossible to win.

Top-level U-19 men's teams are very good and very fast.
To be fair, wasn't the FC Dallas developmental team a U-15 squad? Don't know about the boys on that club, but I gained a ton of mass and strength between my 15th and 19th year.

I'm guessing you'd have to take up 5 to 6 of the men to make it a game.
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Old 07-09-2019, 03:47 AM
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I am baffled by the penalty kick - it favours the shooter about 4 to 1. Why not move it back just a meter or so and give the goalie a chance?
There's no need. Most shoot-outs are decided within 5 kicks each, more than 7 or 8 kicks each is very rare.

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This is similar to the MLS tiebreaker kick. You're allowed to dribble in, but the goalkeeper is allowed to rush as well.
I think this (and the idea of having the shoot-out before extra time, so one team has more to play for) are the only two changes that deserve serious consideration, and neither one is obviously better than the status quo).

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I like that. Scoring percentage. Though I wonder if that might make games too conservative, where players are worried about taking risky shots (or trained not to do it) and would make the games lower-scoring. Would that improve the game?
No, I think you are right that that is a serious problem with this idea.

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Golden goal (and briefly Silver, but I don't recall how that latter one worked).
Golden goal (as most will know) means the first team to score in extra time wins the game there and then. But after the first couple of trials, it seemed that rather than make teams more attacking in extra time, it actually made them more defensive, since the penalty for failure was so high. This led to dull, pointless extra time periods. Silver goal was then invented as a compromise, whereby if a team scored in the first 15 minutes of extra time and remained ahead at the turnaround, they were declared the winner. But it didn't really fix the problem.

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It's just that we're trying to figure out ways to fix soccer so that it's, y'know, interesting. Fun. Good. After landing on the moon and winning two world wars, we just got used to doing things better than everyone else. It's in our blood.
Don't call us, we'll call you. As has been stated ad nauseam in these threads, it's not really broken. It's true that the penalty shoot-out doesn't test the full range of football skills and can turn on a slip or stroke of luck, but that's true of most other solutions, too. It's exciting and it works - it doesn't really need fixing.

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Wait... What? I played soccer in high school, what “grab ass” and “grab balls” are you talking about? That was never a thing!
Yeah, I played for 20 years, man and boy, and it's not a thing. Maybe a few rogue players might try it (including one or two famous examples) but they could expect pretty swift and vicious retribution in most cases.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:55 AM
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Wait... What? I played soccer in high school, what “grab ass” and “grab balls” are you talking about? That was never a thing!

Unless that’s some slang we didn’t use when I played...
For reference: Vinnie Jones vs Paul Gascoigne
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:24 AM
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Yup, that's the one I was thinking of! The fact this photo is still famous 25 or so years after the fact is evidence that it's not a common practice, methinks.
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Old 07-09-2019, 09:36 AM
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Penalty kicks are certainly better than a coin-flip, as I've heard some proposed. Sure, it doesn't test the full range of soccer skills, but at least it's based on some sort of soccer skill. And it concludes quickly enough that you don't need to drag out the game significantly, like extra periods might.
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Old 07-09-2019, 03:23 PM
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In high school, for one season they floated a novel "solution" for extra-time, or over-time as it is in the states. I can't remember exactly what the flow was - I think this was after so much over-time and then in lieu of penalty shots the teams would take turns at corner kicks. The defense only needing to clear past 30 yards? Maybe midfield. It was a little goofy and I remember practicing the routine of it but it never came into actual play anyway because we didn't draw any playoff games. In fact, we won all but one. Damn it.
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:08 AM
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I am baffled by the penalty kick - it favours the shooter about 4 to 1. Why not move it back just a meter or so and give the goalie a chance?
Because the keepers chances of saving increase exponentially.
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:14 AM
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It's just that we're trying to figure out ways to fix soccer so that it's, y'know, interesting. Fun. Good. After landing on the moon and winning two world wars, we just got used to doing things better than everyone else. It's in our blood.
If those are the criteria for who gets to decide the rules of football (soccer), sounds like we should ask the Russians.
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