I like winning, hate losing and absolutely despise tying. Do I need to channel my inner Herm Edwards? "You play to win the game."
When it comes to sports, I’m convinced tying is un-American. Any athletic event that results in a draw defies the meaning of sport. Their needs to be a winner and a loser. Especially after 110 minutes!
Not once, but twice this weekend did Charlotte soccer teams battle to a (0-0) double-overtime, 110 minute scoreless tie, over two hours devoted to watching neither team put the ball in the back of the net. On Sunday, I walked away knowing Charlotte was the better team, but come at-large bid time at the end of the season, Mr. NCAA selection dude will look at the game at face value. A (0-0) tie. It’s not the players, coaches or officials fault. (The men’s game on Sunday was quite entertaining with scoring chances coming at a steady pace and traditionally both Coach Gunn and Cullen play an uptempo, fast, high scoring, fan friendly style of soccer) It’s the rules that bother me.
For example, Friday nights women’s soccer game was arguable the most anticipated matchup in recent memory. And let’s be honest, it was heightened by the fact both teams have a strong distaste for each other and plenty was on the line, including bragging rights and a conference reputation to uphold. But instead, Dayton battles to a (0-0) tie for the 4th time this season! No wonder only 300 people were at the game. Who wants to watch that style of soccer?
Soccer enthusiasts will call it a ‘tremendous defensive struggle,’ I call it ‘a tremendous disappointment.’ Again, I lay no fault at the players or coaches. They let it on the line for 110 minutes, but how can a (0-0) tie between the league’s two best teams be good for the game moving forward through conference? It’s the Yankees-Red Sox tying in a regular season game. It’s Federer tying Roddick in a Wimbledon match. It makes no sense.
In college soccer if the game is tied after regulation the teams play two sudden death overtime periods at 10 minutes a piece. In basketball the teams play however many overtime periods necessary. In baseball teams can play 100 innings if need be. They have tiebreaks in tennis and the Hot Dog eating contest has an eatoff. Now, if similar continuous overtime rules applied in soccer we still might be waiting for a winner from the two matches, so I'm not suggesting that...
That’s where the shootout comes in. Take a page out of the NHL’s book. Play the overtimes, if a tie is still the result, each team is credited with a point and then moves to a shootout. Giving the fans, at the very least, an exciting ending and ability to walk away from the event gleeful with a win or resentful with a loss. Do shootouts in soccer come down to luck? Yea, probably. Are they exciting as H-E-double-hockey sticks to watch? Yea. So just do it already.
Luckily we won’t have this issue come the postseason when the A-10 initiates their shootout policy in soccer.
I want to like soccer. For the most part I'm coming around, and just in time for the '10 World Cup. But when the score results in a (0-0) double overtime draw, it's hard to stay on board.