penalty kicks

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Penalty shootouts to get the ABBA treatment this month

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UEFA is trying something new when it comes to penalty shootouts.

The governing body will try the ‘ABBA’ sequence of shooters at the UEFA U-17 women’s tournament this week in the Czech republic.

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What that means is that instead of teams alternating shooters A-B, A-B, A-B, the team that shoots second will take its first two kicks, followed by the first team then shooting twice. Hence:

Round 1: A-B
Round 2: B-A
Round 3: A-B
Round 4: B-A
Round 5: A-B (and so on).

The perceived advantage to teams shooting first is real. According to Ben Lyttleton’s exhaustive book on penalty kicks, “Twelve Yards”, the team kicking first wins between 56-63 percent of the time.

That 56 percent figure is in the Europa League and the 63 is in the Champions League, with the World Cup, domestic cups, and international competitions also in the mix.

According to UEFA:

The trial has been sanctioned by football’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), as part of its ‘play fair’ initiative, and UEFA has agreed to take part. The experiment is looking at whether the advantage for the team taking the first penalty in a pair of spot kicks in a shoot-out could be reduced.

Judging by the “Twelve Yards” figures, it should be reduced significantly over time. But it will take time to accumulate a good sample size, so perhaps we shouldn’t expect major changes to bigger tournaments any time soon.

NCAA Tournament first round: Home sides (mostly) hold serve
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The NCAA Division I men’s soccer tournament kicked off with 16 first round matches on Friday, and the hosts had most of the joy.

[ VOTE: Would you like Arena as USMNT boss? ]

Some of that came down to travel, others to fortune, but in any event the second round dates are set for Sunday after Thursday’s openers.

Michigan State 1-1 (8-9, PKs) SIU Edwardsville

It took 11 rounds of penalty kicks for a team to pull off the only road win of the first seven matches of the day. SIUE star Austin Ledbetter scored twice in PKs and goalkeeper Kyle Santo made two saves in the shootout. Keegan McHugh scored the goal in regulation, with Michigan State netting through Mike Marcantognini.

UCLA 4-2 Colgate

The 10-win Raiders had to fly across the country to face the Bruins, and the visitors answered Jose Hernandez’s (pictured) 17th minute goal through Zach Pagani’s 22nd minute tally.

MLS prospect Abu Danladi put UCLA up 3-1 with a goal and an assist before halftime, but Colgate pulled one back through Bruno Scodari. The only goal of the second half came with a minute to play, with Kike Poleo putting UCLA through to the second round.

Vermont 3-2 (2OT) Rider

The hosts twice took the lead through Bernard Yeboah, but coach Charlie Inverso’s stubborn Rider had an answer both times. With penalty kicks looming, MLS prospect Brian Wright added a golden goal to his second half assist.

South Carolina 1-0 Mercer
Akron 2-0 Villanova
Dartmouth 1-0 (2OT) St. Francis (Brooklyn)
Virginia Tech 1-0 East Tennessee State
Boston College 1-0 Fordham
Coastal Carolina 2-1 Radford
South Florida 2-2 (0-3, PKs) Florida Gulf Coast
Loyola (Chicago) 2-0 Illinois-Chicago
Creighton 3-0 Tulsa
Providence 2-0 Delaware
New Mexico 0-0 (6-5, PKs) Portland
CSU Northridge 0-1 Pacific
San Diego State 1-1 (5-6, PKs) UNLV

Sunday’s second round

Providence at (1) Maryland
Creighton at (16) Kentucky

Florida Gulf Coast at (9) North Carolina
Dartmouth at (8) Syracuse

Pacific at (5) Stanford
Vermont at (12) Virginia

Loyola Chicago at (13) Notre Dame
UCLA at (4) Louisville

South Carolina at (3) Clemson
Boston College at (14) Albany

New Mexico at (11) Washington
UNLV at (6) Denver

Akron at (7) Indiana
Virginia Tech at (10) Charlotte

SIU Edwardsville at (15) Butler
Coastal Carolina at (2) Wake Forest

WATCH and VOTE: Ranking this awful PK miss against the worst ever


Oh, Steven McKay, surely there are better days ahead, but there may not be a worse penalty.

Playing for the Brora Rangers in the Scottish Highland League, McKay slips and hits a wayward “pop fly” nowhere near the goal.

[ MORE: Larin wins MLS award with astounding percentage of vote ]

It’s bad. And it’s top of mind. But is it the worst ever, as claimed by many? Many will point to John Terry‘s UEFA Champions League flop or Neymar’s summer miss a few years back against Colombia, but aren’t those name- and circumstance-related more than anything?

I’ll let you vote, but I dare you to find worse than Peter Devine’s miss for Lancaster City against Whitley Bay in 1991.

Joe Hart‘s save makes this Seydou Doumbia panenka miss look even worse:

And USMNT keeper Brad Guzan was with Villa when Alessandro Del Piero did this:

And then there’s Will Smith, the actor:

We’ll leave the Fresh Prince out of this. Who’s your pick?

Woe Trafford: Rooney calls home loss to Liverpool “one of the worst days I’ve ever had in football”

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Earlier this week, Wayne Rooney talked about how hard it’s been for him to watch Liverpool succeed while his Manchester United team labors to find a place in Europe.

So it’s no surprise that the hopeful future Red Devils captain has been stung deeply by today’s 3-0 home loss at the hands of Liverpool. Manchester United conceded three penalty kicks, two were converted, and were altogether a shell of the club that won the Premier League in 2013.

He’s historically ticked off.

“It’s like a nightmare. It’s one of the worst days I’ve ever had in football. It’s hard to take. You have to give Liverpool credit – they played well – but it’s difficult to take.

“Nobody wants to lose, especially in this way, in your own stadium. It’s not nice.”

United’s home form this PL season has been shocking (considering we’re talking about the former fortress known as Old Trafford). The club has lost five times in 14 matches and is performing worse at home than on the road. Consider:

Manchester United in home PL matches — 6W-3D-5L, +3 GD, 1.29 goals per game
Manchester Untied in road PL matches — 8W-3D-4L, +9 GD, 1.87 goals per game

It makes a little bit of sense if we speculate that the pressure from the Old Trafford faithful is daunting in their first season post-Sir Alex Ferguson, but it really begs whether the only fix is flipping the majority of the team and hoping the new blood who comes in can latch onto renewing United as a Champions League club — presuming they don’t make it — and restoring order to Old Trafford.