Penalty kicks to determine championships? Nah

In double overtime, DU came within about eight minutes of a penalty kick shootout against Wake Forest at the NCAA College Cup in Houston. Stanford then had a crazy 10-round shootout against North Carolina. Then, in the final on Sunday, Stanford won again, this time over Wake Forest, in a 5-4 shootout. To top it off, the Seattle Sounders won the 2016 Major League Soccer championship on Saturday, beating Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final on penalty kicks after 120 minutes failed to yield a single goal.

There has to be a better way.

Following Denver’s loss in at the College Cup in Houston, we had a few beers – well, maybe more than a few as we watched the Stanford-UNC match, two OT periods, and the never-ending shootout won by eventual champion Stanford.

Image result for Stanford UNC penalty kick
University of North Carolina’s Alex Comsia took his shot on goal after Stanford and UNC traded 20 shots – and missed.

A shootout is taken from 11 meters (approximately 12 yards) out from the goal, on the penalty mark. The goal posts are 8 yards apart and the top bar is 8 feet high.

The whole thing seems anticlimactic, especially after a tight, well-fought match, doesn’t it? Also, the act of ‘a penalty kick’ resolves the match outside the normal flow of a game. This may be a better idea:

  • If a shootout is the only way to resolve a match, move the shot out to 13 meters to increase the skill required by both the penalty taker and the keeper. The current distance often rewards the goalie with the best case of ESP.
  • Better yet, college hockey’s NCHC has an argurably great idea to break ties by testing the skills of offensive and defensive players. The NCHC OT rules have players go 3-on-3 after the normal 5 minutes of 5-on-5 overtime. In soccer, why not have two players start at midfield against a keeper and one defender? A 2 on 1 break is how the DU-Wake Forest Game ended in regulation and it demonstrated a high level of execution to score the winning goal by the Demon Deacons.

What do you think? Should the current shootout procedures be followed, especially for Championship matches, or do the current rules need to be changed?