Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee has attracted a fair share of detractors for his PK against DC United. His detractors are wrong.
DC United lost at the weekend, this time to the Chicago Fire. The way this season’s gone so far, that isn’t much of a story. Of course, fans and journalists alike have had to find a talking point to make an otherwise routine affair seem interesting. Their target du jour, it would seem, is Mike Magee.
The main issue at hand lies within Magee’s penalty kick, which he comfortably dispatched to put the game beyond any doubt at 4-0 to the Fire. Watch the video for yourself, and try and decide if anything looks suspect. If anything, you might be wondering just why a penalty was awarded in the first place, as Quincy Amarikwa hurles himself to the turf like a limp rag doll following a quantum amount of contact from Daniel Woolard.
The problem some seem to have with the penalty is Mike Magee’s unconventional technique. The player takes one stride to the ball, stutters slightly as he drags his kicking foot towards his standing foot, whilst drifting his upper body forwards, before taking one last step and striking the ball. At no point in this run-up does Magee come to a halt, but that’s what some of his detractors would have you believe.
The issue, they claim, is that it is unsporting, or even illegal to feint during the run up.
If only there were some means of deciding this issue once and for all. Some sort of handbook or official guidelines from a universal governing body to settle arguments such as this.
Oh… wait, here it is.
Rule 14 of the FIFA rulebook clearly states, “Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted as part of football. However, feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is considered an infringement of Law 14 and an act of unsporting behaviour for which the player must be cautioned.”
Now watch Magee’s penalty again. Hell, watch any penalty that top level takers Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Balotelli have ever taken. Magee, just like Ronaldo and Balotelli, clearly feints during the run-up. Even better, he actually maintains a fair bit more momentum than either of the European stars.
Magee should not be chastised for his penalty – he should be praised. The look on DC United ‘keeper Joe Willis said it all (if you look closely behind all of that wonderful facial hair). It’s a look of resignation. Of utter befuddlement and defeat. Magee didn’t just score the penalty – he bested a fellow athlete in a game of wits and nerve.
It’s not easy to do what Magee did. Chances are, if you aren’t a composed enough player and try to throw in some trickery into your penalty run-up you’ll end up making matters infinitely worse for yourself. Just look on YouTube – there is video after video of players trying overly complex penalty kicks and failing embarrassingly. The reason Magee’s technique is so rarely seen is not because it is illegal, but because it is really quite the skill.
FIFA’s Rule 14 says it best – “Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted as part of football“. It is a part of the game. Sport is all about pushing the rules to the limit, trying to perform to the greatest extreme whilst remaining within the predefined limitations. If you want to scorn Magee, then you first must scorn every defender who forcefully jostles with his man and every keeper who raises his knee when claiming an aerial ball. If you are unwilling to do so, then let Magee continue to play the game – the way it was meant to be played.