Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sacramento Republic Hasn't Scored a Goal in Nearly 500 minutes

These days, it's tough to be a Sacramento Republic fan. The United Soccer League Division II team is in the midst of a futile scoring streak that has lasted close to 500 minutes. Officially, the streak is at 473 minutes. The Republic last scored six games ago in the 67th minute of a 2-1 victory on the road against the Tulsa Roughnecks. Since that goal, they've gone 5 full games, 90 minutes each, without a goal.

In U.S. soccer circles, Sacramento is considered a respectable franchise. A soccer-specific stadium has been approved for the downtown, as the public has been galvanized by soccer fever and the allure of MLS. In the minds of most American soccer pundits, Sacramento is the likeliest of contenders to be awarded a franchise in the next announcements from the commissioner's office.

With Sacramento's passion for soccer clearly established, a reputation for excellence is also trying to be established. Sacramento has already won a Division III title in 2014, beating Harrisburg City 2-0, in the final. The team averaged more than 20,000 fans in attendance during the playoffs that year. They won a regular season conference title in 2016. Clearly, soccer is being taken seriously in Capital City. And, this is why a long scoreless streak for the team is so disappointing.

Considering the amount of world soccer leagues that have come and gone and the amount of clubs in soccer history across the world that have come and gone, it would probably be really hard to track down the all-time world record for scoreless minutes streak. However, the MLS scoreless minutes streak is available and a good starting point for comparison. According to the Toronto FC list of records, back in 2007, that Toronto FC team went 824 minutes without scoring a goal.

A few Google searches later, and I found out that the Chicago Blackhawks from the NHL went 581 minutes (10 games) without a goal, in 1929. And, it looks like five MLB teams have gone at least 4 games without scoring a run-that's at least 36 innings.

So, not scoring, does happen. It's part of sports. In fact, shut-outs are a popular sports search category. In soccer, they are called clean-sheets. The Houston Dynamo dominated teams over an eight game stretch in 2007. They managed 727 minutes without a goal scored on against them.

But, this is one Dynamo team playing excellent defense against many different opponents. Your team probably only played them once during that streak and didn't score. And, your team probably scored in the next game or in the game before the Dynamo game.

How are you supposed to feel, though, if your team hasn't scored in five games, like Sacramento? As a loyal fan, it must feel awful and you might even think that there's something wrong with the sport.

We can all appreciate good defense and we can appreciate the challenge of scoring a goal-the difficulty of it, and the beauty of it. But should the rules be configured to stifle scoring, to deprive fans from the essential joys of the game? The sport is supposed to be entertainment. Fans watch as a diversion from their mundane lives. If scoring in soccer is so difficult, then, more progress needs to come from those who can affect the rules of the game. The sport has to be able to deliver goals for fans.

In case your counting minutes, Sacramento would need to play four more full games without scoring to break the Toronto FC record. In looking at Sacramento's schedule coming up, it looks like they have a tough one on the road against the Real Monarchs, currently sitting in second place in the Western Conference, but then those Roughnecks visit Sacramento and will likely be a heavy underdog versus the Republic.

There's still plenty of room for optimism in Capital City. The Republic is positioned, at this time, to still make the playoffs. They sit with a 3-4-1 record in seventh place. The top eight teams from the conference get to the playoffs after the regular season ends in October.

3 comments:

  1. I've always argued that Americans don't have a problem with low scoring -- they have a problem with no scoring. Almost all of our sports are low scoring (hockey, baseball, and even American football (if you count only touchdowns) regularly score 3 or less, and will OCCASIONALLY have shut-outs. However, when games often end 0-0 or 1-0, that's when there's a problem and Americans get annoyed.

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