Monday, November 17, 2008

Did The MLS Damage Walter Zenga's Mind?

I found myself wondering if Italian legend Walter Zenga's time in Major League Soccer (MLS) damaged his mind after reading this article. If you haven't heard, Zenga seems to think that having his players drop their shorts during a free kick is strategy. Zenga has hist players at Catania, where he currently coaches, lowering their shorts to their knees because it blocks the goalkeepers vision.

To be honest, I don't understand how this act in and of itself is making a difference in terms of blocking the goalkeeper's vision. A free kick situation where the opposing team has a chance to take a crack at goal is usually a mess of bodies with the opposing team forming a wall of players and many others crowded in there. Having a couple players lowering their shorts isn't making it easier for the goalkeeper to see the ball. But it would just be making an already difficult situation a bit more difficult.

And that doesn't leave out the affect it has on the players lowering their shorts. No, I'm not talking not having a clean pair of undies to wear for the world to see. If a players shorts are at their knees, how can they react to the play on the field? How many times have you seen a free kick taken where the team with the kick has a player that was trying to mess with the wall now desperately trying to get out of the way to let it through? How many times has a free kick hit the wall or been saved by a goalkeeper and had everyone scrambling to get to the ball to have another chance at goal? Well, if you're shorts are around your knees you're going to have a tough time reacting to these things. Has Zenga actually taken this into consideration?

Of course it does bring up a few issues. This is a game after all that automatically gives a player a yellow card for taking their shirt off to celebrate scoring a goal. Those are pretty strict standards. Surely showing off ones tighty-whities during a game is worse than taking off a shirt to celebrate a goal? Then again, this is a game that has sunk to the low of accepting diving as something professionals should do; that when they get hit they should go down. If that's being embraced by the game, why should anyone get bothered over a bit of short dropping?

The rules of the game aside, what would ever prompt Walter Zenga to even consider using this?

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