With the UEFA Euro Cup just coming to a close last week, and the summer Olympics coming up in a few weeks, everyone seems to be getting what I call “every two-year” excitement. Americans watch soccer during the summer games and the World Cup. Besides that, not many of us have much interest. Why is this? Soccer is composed of an overabundance of backwards movement, coupled with what appears to be no urgency to score until the last 5 minutes of the game. Any game which can end 0-0 with 2 shots on goal the entire game has to be hard to watch for even the most dedicated soccer fan.
Not to worry, sports fans, we here at HSH have your back. I would like to propose some rule changes that would make this sport more than barely tolerable every two years. Here they are:
- A 60 second shot-clock. A team would have one minute to produce not just a shot, but a shot on goal or their possession is surrendered. Imagine Lionel Messi receiving a pass with 10 seconds left on the shot clock from 25 yards out. He’s got time to make a few moves as he gets closer to the net to find a better shot. With the footwork and ball skills of some of the strikers around the world, these 10 seconds may become some of the most interesting ticks of the clock in all of sports.
- A “back field” violation. One of my biggest pet peeves (and since it’s mine, I’m assuming it’s yours as well since I’m always right) is how many times the ball is passed backwards. I can’t tell you how many times when I do watch soccer I get frustrated because I see what looks like a perfect opportunity for someone to make a run at the net, and the midfielder doesn’t see it, and they start passing the ball backwards, with the ball eventually making its way all the way to the goalie, basically resetting the “offense.” No more of that stuff. Once the ball crosses midfield, it shouldn’t cross it again unless the other team has the ball. Like with the shot clock, the penalty is forfeiting the possession.
- A penalty box. What better way to create scoring opportunities than to stagger the odds. If you commit a penalty, you sit for a certain amount of time, based on the severity of the foul. This is stolen straight from hockey, but with the shot clock, and back field violation, more goals would be scored on a power play in soccer. Also, I wouldn’t be opposed whatsoever if players who flop are put in the penalty box.
- More penalty kicks. The most exciting thing in this sport occurs once every 39 games. I just made that stat up, but they doesn’t happen nearly enough. HSH’s fix? PK’s for every “flagrant” foul, yellow or red card.
We want more scoring in soccer, and with the suggested rule changes, there’s no doubt goals would start adding up. MLS are you paying attention? No one outside of the northwest cares for your product very much, and with as much as everyone was up talking the growth of the sport after the USA men’s squad didn’t completely disappoint at the 2010 World Cup, we here at HSH are just trying to do our part to help support the hype.