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World Cup Stats (and Suggestions)

Columnist Robert Steinbeck is proud to say he can appreciate the best any sport has to offer, with one little caveat. Soccer just doesn't cut it for him, and he says he tried particularly hard during the World Cup to be turned on, but alas, nothing. However, it's less interesting that we have yet another American pundit turned off by soccer because of the usual reasons (slowness and low scoring) than it is to consider the robust set of statistics he provides us with. Let us first be honest: intriguing midfield battles notwithstanding, this was certainly not the best World Cup in recent memory. It was low scoring, and quality strikers and goal-sniffers were conspicuous by their absence. Goals per game: 2.3, the lowest since the great goal drought of Italia '90. And one goal was often enough: in two thirds of the games at least one of the teams was shut out. In fact, the losing teams combined scored just 17 times in 64 games. That's another way of saying that if a team managed to score, it had a 77 percent chance of winning. Discounting PK wins and victories in extra time, only six times did the team that conceded first go on to win in regulation. There were seven 0-0 draws. Thirteen games finished 1-0. Both teams scored twice or more just five times. Steinbeck goes on to suggest a few things that need to change to ramp up scoring in soccer. He suggests that the sport adopt several ice hockey rules, like an off-side line, a penalty box for harsh fouls, and a convoluted three-on-three sudden death overtime system. Yeah, tell that one to FIFA.

Read the whole story at Salt Lake Tribune »

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