SOCCER IS a game about space: How to find it, how to use it, how to create it. You can master space with your skills, your intelligence and your athleticism. As such, space is the bedrock of the sport. That's something to keep in mind when considering my proposal for how to fix extra time in soccer in the most organic way possible: Increase the amount of space available on the field by having each team remove a player every five minutes in the extra period.
This is an article from the Dec. 7, 2015 issue
Want to know an inorganic way of breaking ties? Penalty kicks (above). As SI's Alexander Wolff once wrote, deciding a soccer game with penalty kicks is like asking Lincoln and Douglas to settle their debates with a belching contest. Soccer games should be decided by soccer. And as you remove players from the field, the space increases, and so do the chances for goals. Hockey fans, feel free to speak up here. By taking a player off every five minutes, a coach also has to make a fascinating tactical decision with the game on the line. Who do I really need here? It's easy to envision the second-guessing that would take place after a controversial coaching call.
But that's the thing: Those would be soccer debates in the way that ones about penalty kicks never are. Don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you there's some sort of sanctity to the penalty-kick shootout. There isn't. It's a dumb way to decide a game. Better to let the outcome be settled by space. Better to let it be determined by soccer.