FRISCO, TX - JULY 31: C'mon Ale, draw those fouls closer to goal. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
This season, Chivas USA did something that no other team did this season. What could it be? Considering their final position in the standings, it's probably not anything particularly good.
How about this? Chivas have accomplished something that only two other teams have done in the history of MLS. Think about that. It's obviously pretty rare.
Give up? Read what it is after the jumpOk, in 2011 Chivas USA failed to earn a penalty kick attempt all season. As Gabe Dahl has researched, the only other two teams in MLS history that did not attempt a PK in a season were FC Dallas in 2006 and Kansas City Wizards in 2000. Now, failing to draw a penalty does not necessarily mean a team is bad, as KC finished first in their division, and tied for first overall in 2000, and Dallas finished first in their division and second overall in 2006.
What to make of this accomplishment for Chivas? Well, I think it's a sign that it signals a little bit of bad luck, but it also indicates a lack of aggression in the penalty box. If a team or two went without PK attempts every season, it would be one thing, but that it's only happened three teams in league history means a team has to be really reluctant to mix it up in front of goal and draw fouls in the box. What's strange is that Chivas have physical forwards, as Alejandro Moreno's main skill at this point in his career is drawing fouls, although he can't seem to do it inside the 18-yard box. Justin Braun found moments where he was playing with his back to goal and setting up teammates this season, but he couldn't take care of business either. And Juan Pablo Angel might have drawn a penalty if he was around for more than a quarter of the games this season.
Now, the devil's advocate would say that PKs aren't that big of a deal if a team is scoring goals in other ways, and that there's a nobility in not diving shamelessly to unfairly draw a penalty. Lord knows that Chivas were the victims of at least a couple of dubious incidents themselves that led to PK attempts this season, most notably Dwayne De Rosario's "I've been shot by JPA's fingertips!!!!" dive in Chivas' second match against DC United.
I'm not saying that I want a team of guys falling over at a slight breeze to clumsily attempt to gain an advantage. But there's a way of getting into a situation where a penalty is possible, by playing the ball in the box, and if a foul takes place and needs to be sold, that's different than the wild theatrics viewed the world over. That's why players dive to draw penalties - to try and get a result for their team. Now, we all know Chivas ended up finishing far out of the playoff chase, so picking up a point or three would not have dramatically changed their fate this season. But in the midst of the playoff hunt, it could have buoyed the team and prevented a slide.
We'll never know. Chivas are part of a trivia answer, so have that in your backpocket for pub trivia nights for years to come. Hopefully, among the other improvements the Goats need to make, they'll find a way to earn some PKs next season.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!