These 2nd round [or bracket] games of the 2006 World Cup have been really good. We've had three matches go to penalty kicks and 8 of the 11 matches have been decided by 1 goal or in penalty kicks.
Get rid of the penalty kicks.
I know. I know. These guys have been at it for hours running up and down the field. But that is what makes this exciting....sorta like the NHL playoffs. They will play, and play, and play, and play until someone finally knocks one in. Sudden death. Now, the NHL has a shootout during the season, which is fine....everyone needs to get back home, but realized that keeping on playing was what was needed for the playoffs.
I mean, that's like stopping a gripping NBA playoff game with a free throw shooting contest. Or stopping an NFL game for a "who can kick it farther" FG contest. Or stopping a baseball game after 9 innings have having a HR derby.
Actually, it is worse.
This event comes once every four years and is apparantly the biggest sporting event in the world. Then why not go balls out?? Keep playing. Maybe let all the substituted players from regulation be eligible for the overtimes?? I dunno. But after watching a scoreless match for 120 minutes [like Portugal-England] it would be nice to see the winner advance by finally breaking thru and getting that beautiful sudden death winning goal. Isn't that much better than going to penalty kicks??
Imagine the sight across the country of some Portugese player breaking away for a goal; or getting a header in; or just a lucky bounce off a scrum in front of the goal. Anything is better than playing chicken with a 6-foot goalie guarding a huge net.
I just don't like deciding a scoreless, defensive match by having a contest to see who's goalie can guess right at least once more than the other team.
Maybe that is the American in me. Maybe. But that's one thing that I think Americans do well in sport....have gripping endings to games. I watched some of these World Cup matches that were just 1 goal contests that ended like they were still in the 30th minute. It isn't gripping. There is nothing like those extra inning affairs in baseball where one bad pitch could end it [see: Reds-Indians last night where the Reds scored four in the 8th and five in the 9th to win 9-8]. There is nothing like the NFL overtime, or during the season, when a team lines up for a hopeful winning FG. There is nothing like the trailing team pulling the goalie in the NHL to try to get that extra scorer on the ice. And there is nothing, nothing, like that inbounds pass in the NBA where the star has to hit the game winning shot.
Let soccer have that too.