Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tough Loss

I have a recommendation for the soccer rules' committees.  Allow for substitutions and player reentry.

The way the game is currently played a player who is replaced cannot return to the game.  What occurred during the United States-Belgium contest today is an example of why this change would make sense.

The game was tied 0-0 after the regulation 90 minutes.  In the thirty minutes of overtime there were three goals.  This would seem to indicate that the players had the energy necessary to score even after 90 minutes. I don't think that was what happened. Players who know they will be running for 90 and maybe 120 minutes cannot go all out in the beginning or they would collapse.  They pace themselves. At the end they do not pace themselves.  If players knew from the start that they could have a rest they might go all out, all the time.  Like ice hockey players.

In the second fifteen minute overtime particularly, the tension and pressure on the Belgian goalie was nearly continuous, and it made for a thrilling period. The rest of the game was not nearly as engaging.

With the United States down 1-0, we started pressuring the Belgian goalie. Perhaps as a consequence the defense was not ready for what amounted to a Belgian fast break goal that made it 2-0. Then, the US scored on a beautiful play to bring the team within one of tying the game.  And we nearly did tie it on a very special looking try off of a free kick. Problem was that our stud, Clint Dempsey, was so fatigued at the end that he missed this great opportunity.

The players were running for two hours with almost no break. What is most remarkable is that after taking a kick to the shins or face or gut that would level me until the 2016 election, these guys writhe for a couple of minutes and then they pop up. One fellow twisted his ankle in a way that made spectators hold their gut.  Next thing I knew he was bounding around.

Starbucks was packed again for this game. Very exciting at the end. Hats off to our goalie, Tim Howard. He made great saves throughout the game and if he had not been so spectacular we might have lost by three or four goals.

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