Change and the end of the red card/penalty combo
The non-conference season has ended, and we're edging ever closer to the regional rankings and the contender-pretender portion of the season. But today, I want to discuss rule changes. Why change at all?
1. Why not? We try to improve everything else, from our phones and computers to our jobs and our diet. You see it in football and basketball with instant replay, or tennis with player challenges. You even see it in soccer. Now, using shaving cream to mark ten yards is not a big change, but it's better than watching walls scoot up a full five yards before a free kick. My rule of thumb: if the only reason to not change is "that's the way it's always been," then a change is worth a look.
2. Soccer is simple. No timeouts, no plays, and so on. Beyond offside, it boils down to (1) don't use your hands and (2) put the ball in the goal. So, in my view, any change that keeps the game in its natural, free-flowing state is an improvement. For example, you can now kick the ball backwards on kickoffs. There was no rational reason to keep forcing teams to have one player tap the ball to another before passing back to start a game.
3. Rules have exceptions, and systems have loopholes. Soccer is no different. Goalies take 90 seconds on goal kicks to waste time, or players take a yellow card to stop a counterattack. You know the drill. But I'd look at any rule change that makes the college game more like pure soccer.
4. However, two counterpoints. One: college soccer is not pro soccer. The goal is not to put on the best product, but to have the right rules for student-athletes. Any rule change requires a look at whether it fits with college soccer's "ethos." Two: my view of pure soccer may not (likely does not) match everyone else's.
The Red Card/Penalty Combo
Rather than pitch a rule change, let's look at a new rule already on the books this season: the red-card/penalty combo. In the past, if a defender committed a foul that denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity, he received a red card. If he committed that foul in the box, the other team also received a penalty kick. So...[read more]