And I thought the Earthquakes were bad! Two men, two horribly missed penalties, the only question? Which was worse:
It is truly an impressive feat to miss all four penalties in one shootout. According to this report from InStat, male players successfully convert about 75% of penalty tries. Which means, on average, you should expect only one out of four of those attempts to be missed – But Nashville SC managed to miss all four on Sunday night, mercifully stealing the playoff failure spotlight from the team that gave up two goals in twenty minutes because all their players were fatigued because they didn’t use any of their subs, Peter, you can use all five of your subs, Peter, if depth is a problem you should probably take it up with the guy in charge of getting players, who is also you, Peter
Sorry. Anyway. The first two Nashville misses were less interesting than the latter two, unless we consider that Hany Muktahr still may win league MVP with his season having ended on that particularly weak penalty attempt. Andre Blake’s save on Anibal Godoy was genuinely impressive. Philadelphia sent Sergio Santos, who was having horrible luck all game, to take the second, which was saved by Joe Willis.
Down only 1-0, a still very manageable scoreline, with a goalkeeper known for making clutch playoff penalty saves, Alex Muyl stepped to take the third attempt.
Muyl missed. And he missed very badly. His kick missed so badly that it ended up in the stands, you can see on the broadcast that it hits a guy in the stands. Union teenager Jack McGlynn would convert his to make it 2-0, leaving Nashville’s last chance at survival at the foot of Walker Zimmerman, who would also miss badly, and in the same direction, as Muyl’s kick did. Philadelphia had won.
Now, the outcome of the game is not in question. Philadelphia will be moving on and facing the winner of tonight’s game between New England and New York City. My question is this – Which of those last two kicks was worse?
The utilitarian may say that they were equally bad – They both missed the goal, thus earning them zero points in the pivotal shootout. You don’t get extra points for a well-taken penalty, you don’t get points deducted for a missed Panenka. But I am an artist. I have an artistic mind. And I also have a comedic mind, one that finds it very funny how missed penalties can end up in the stands behind the goal. And I also have an analytical mind, a little free time this morning, and the “brush” tool in Photoshop.
It is visible on the broadcast where exactly Alex Muyl’s kick ended up. It lands to the right of the stairs between sections 137 and 138, a few rows up, hitting a guy in the chest who was leaning on the railing and didn’t seem to be ready for it. Thankfully, it didn’t hit them in the face. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the red circle indicating where the ball landed is very far away from the white rectangle Muyl was aiming for. This is not good.
Zimmerman’s shot was not shown from this angle when it was taken, it was shown from a sideline camera angle, and the replay from behind Zimmerman used a much narrower field of view. However, I was able to find a wider angle (and in 4K, no less!) view of Zimmerman’s shot from a spectator on YouTube. The camera shakes as the ball lands in the stands as the camera-operator and everyone around them cheers. The image to follow is the last frame in which the ball is completely visible:
From what I can tell, the ball is angling towards hitting a person in a powder-blue shirt. Muyl’s shot flew very straight, while Zimmerman’s took a bit of a curve, but I think that’s where it ends up just judging from the path it was headed on. Thankfully, ESPN had shown a wider angle of the crowd behind that goal earlier, which showed both the victims of Muyl’s and Zimmerman’s shot in comparison to one another –
Though the quality is imperfect, Zimmerman’s victim appears to be about four heads to the right of Muyl’s victim. (I could have picked a less ominous term than ‘victim’, but it’s not an incorrect word to use, I don’t think. What else could I say? Subject? Object? Victim works as well as anything else) Muyl’s victim appears to be a row higher than Zimmerman’s. Rudimentary head counts make me think that Muyl’s victim was in the sixth row and Zimmerman’s was in the fifth.
A very, very scientifically sound measurement I’ve done just now using a notecard and my computer monitor indicated this –
With the upper-right corner of the goal acting as the anchor point, it appears that Zimmerman’s shot ended up hitting someone further away from the goal than Muyl’s did when judged on a 2D plane such as this. This, along with the fact that Zimmerman’s kick actually ended the game, while Muyl’s merely mostly ended the game, and the fact that Zimmerman pointed at the spot that all of the players had used to show it was all messed up after taking the shot, leads me to come to the unequivocal conclusion that Walker Zimmerman’s penalty was worse.
I hope that this has proven valuable, or at least illustrative to you, and if it’s been neither of those, then I hope it’s at least killed a little time. Thanks!