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My Two-Step Plan To Improve Soccer

All eyes are on the World Cup right now. The game is beautiful. I've always gravitated towards it because I see some similar patterns in soccer to hockey. Offense is always driven by time, space, and creativity. People in America complain that it is boring. I think Feitelberg had a great quote about this

I think this is largely true. I love soccer the way it is. Having said that...that doesn't mean it can't be better. You need more moments of greatest. More moments to get excited. Simply put...more offense. I think the best way to do that is to tweak the offsides rule a little. When I said that Sam and Troopz basically had a seizure. Troopz less so, but that is only because he was basically in a cannabis coma. They love the sport more than anything. They're zealots. Zealots are usually the hardest to convince that change can be good. Iman Shumpert had a great quote about change in his sport.

The whole clip is interesting, but the part I want to focus on here starts at the 1:30 mark. "I said they ruined the game, but they just ruined the version of the game that I like"--Iman Shumpert. 

Sometimes you have to sacrifice what things are for what they can become. As a hockey fan, I have experienced some significant changes to the rules of the game in my lifetime at the highest level. Heading into the lockout there was a lot of discussion about how to open the game and make it a better product. For the youngins reading, the NHL used to have a 2-line pass rule. Basically, you couldn't pass the puck from your zone to a teammate over the redline. No stretch passes were allowed. It is insane to think about 17 years later, but that was always the case. My coach at the time hated the idea of getting rid of the redline/2-line pass rule. He quoted Doug Gilmore saying "if they get rid of the redline forwards are going to have to introduce themselves to their defensemen at the end of the season because they'll never help out on defense". That, of course, was bullshit. Hockey has never been better or faster and it didn't have to sacrifice it's soul the way old heads feared in 2004. 

Then, a few years ago, hockey also changed it's standard off-sides rule bit. They changed the "determining edge" of the blueline for offsides so more plays were considered onsides and we didn't need to check replays on zone entries as much and take goals off the board. It was a good rule change. 

Soccer too needs to change offsides too and they need to do it by changing the "determining edge". These two screen grabs from earlier in the tournament were ruled offsides and resulted in goals being reviewed and taken off the board.

The way things are right now you could score a BRILLIANT and exciting goal, but if your eyelash or toenail was offsides when the play started 30 yards from the goal. That is bullshit. The game comes to a halt while the ref looks at a little ipad monitor. Even if a play is onside, you can't celebrate goals as much because you're waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

The way to fix that change the determining edge of offsides. Instead having it be offsides if a guy's eyebrow, nose, or toenail is beyond the final defender, make it so as long as any part of the attacking player is overlapping with the last defender then he is onsides. That would give the attacking player a slight advantage. Slight. We might get more games that end 3-2, but this rule wouldn't lead to 6-5 games. The soul of the game would remain intact. 

The pushback from Sam was "it gives the attack a monumental advantage". Look at those images above and tell me that is a huge advantage. It's not. This rule will not change the way a defender defends. They still have to mark their man and be aware of where they are on the field. Sam also said that this would make the linesman's job impossible. I call bullshit on that one. That makes no sense. It is MUCH easier to tell if a player has 99% of his body onsides than it is to tell if someone has 1% of their body off. 

Troopz said "if you're off you're off" and said that my problem is more with VAR and he would get rid of VAR. That is a contradiction. You can't say "if your nose is off you're off" and then say you want to get rid of VAR because they ONLY way to tell if someone's nose is offsides is by looking at VAR. Either you want it to be to the letter of the law or you don't. If you're a person who says "if you're off you're off" then you have ZERO place to complain about VAR slowing everything down. 

The Monday slate of World Cup games was absolutely electric. 6 total goals between Cameroon-Serbia and 5 between Ghana-Korea. Games like that are far too rare in this sport. A slight change to improve the flow and offense would get us there. 

Soccer has changed rules before, it's just been a generation or so. Back in the day, like 1990, players used to be able to pass the ball to their own keeper and he was allowed to play the ball with his hands. That allowed teams with a 1-0 lead to absolutely KILL the game because everything was wasting time. They changed the rule that if you pass to the goalie with your feet then he has to play it with his feet. That was a great rule change for the game and it's universally recognized as such. Now it's time for another one. 

The other rule change…I hate the way Champions League is done. It drives me crazy that a team that qualifies for Europe can be radically changed with through the transfer window in the summer. Like when Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid qualify, but then competed for his Serie A team in the Champions League. Imagine if the Bills qualified for the playoffs in the NFL, but by the time the playoffs started Josh Allen played for a different team? That is insanity. 

Condense the domestic season by playing more midweek games when UEFA competitions typically take place. Get the domestic season done by 5/1 and then start Champions League after and play that entire tournament in a month or 6 weeks. Run it like the World Cup. Host cities, one game in every stage of the tournament instead of two legs. That'll never be adopted, but it should.