Roberto Baggio, David Beckham, John Terry, Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Ching?

Penalty shoot-outs in fútbol are the bane of many a fan of said sport, but I think it is the haters that have the biggest problem with them.

Personally, I like the drama, the suspense, the finality of the thing. This despite the fact that my childhood was scarred by México’s inability to win a World Cup shootout (whether 1-4 in ’86 against Germany or 1-3 in ’94 against Bulgaria).

I’m guessing El Tri‘s shoot out woes have to do with our succession of vertically-challenged keepers (yes I know the current squad had a couple of “giant” 6-footers).

Back to the title of this post: What do these 5 guys have in common? They all fell prey to the same phenomenon: stars who choked during penalty shoot-outs costing their team the game.

The last 2 add their names to the list after their performance in last night’s SuperLiga final between the Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution. (the hometown Dynamo lost in a shoot-out)

Yes, I know that the 1994 World Cup final (Baggio, Italy), Euro 2004 quarters (Beckham, England), 2008 Champions League final (Terry, Chelsea) are infinitely bigger stages than a contrived tournament like SuperLiga, but why do star players continue to peter out at crunch time?

One of life’s great enigmas…

John Terry Delivers Championship to Manchester United

People that aren’t fans of soccer/fútbol are puzzled how a typically low-scoring affair can be exciting. Those of us who were bottle-fed the sport find it hard to to explain to them how a 1-1 (or even 0-0, blasphemy!) can be terribly thrilling.

The penalty shootout is another one of those things in soccer/fútbol which non-fans don’t really understand and dismiss it outright. For my money there is no better way to decide a tight contest. Can you imagine an NBA game which goes to 2 overtimes and instead of going into a third, the outcome is decided on free throws? Maybe I should write to David Stern…

Though I did not watch yesterday’s dramatic Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea though I tried to keep up with it via ESPN’s Gamecast. The match went into a shootout after the teams were knotted up 1-1 after the requisite 2 overtimes.

With a chance to clinch the game for his side, Chelsea captain John Terry (below) missed his penalty shot as he slipped on the wet surface. The shootout went into sudden death shootout and Man U em, manned up and took La Champions.

Eurosport

The Daily Mail has some great pictures, check ’em out here,
Triumphant return for United as heroes head home with European trophy

They also reported on the match’s other matchup, between Nike (which sponsors Man U) and Adidas (who makes the Chelsea kit),
Europe’s great marketing war is fought out in the boot camps