The PK is really the ultimate “mano-a-mano” moment in soccer. One player faces off against the goalkeeper. Everybody else has to be outside the box. It’s just two men, facing off for a goal (something that is a heck of a lot harder to score from the flow of play than it is from the PK mark).
If the man makes it, he’s a hero. If he misses it, he’s the goat (like poor Terry there @ the 2008 Champions League Final).
Unlike regular free kicks, a PK is subject to several arbitrary rules. The player taking the kick must be identified, so there can be no chicanery. The player must kick the ball forward (was it really necessary to put that in the rules?). I would give you another Pop Quiz question about PKs, but my queries are easier than scoring a PK in an MLS game.
So, instead I will again point out an interesting facet of PKs that could end up on your Final Exam (wink wink). What happens if as a player is approaching the ball to take a free kick his idiot teammate spits in an opponent’s face at midfield in retaliation for an opponent’s abusive language, and the first player then kicks the ball in the goal?
Well, it would depend on who saw what. If the teammate who retaliated was the only one the ref saw, the goal would be no good and the kick would be retaken. But, what if both players were written up? Well, the player would still have to retake the kick. Unlike the NFL, soccer has no “offsetting penalties”. Is this a good rule? Heck, I have no idea.
When it comes to PKs, I am not a big fan. They are necessary, sure, but they also make scoring a goal (an art form) into an easy task (like paint-by-numbers). When games are decided by PKs, it makes me want to throw-up. Which, if you think about it, is fitting, because the next rule of soccer we will be handling here at STO is none other than the throw-in. See you then.