Penalties always end up as a mind game. Landon Donovan lost the mind game in the MLS Cup this past weekend. There are a few rules to follow in penalties. First, never rush the kick. When the ref blows the whistle, take a few seconds to breathe and focus or you'll rush the shot and blow it. Second, the safest shot is to the lower left or right corner. If you aim high, you risk hitting it over the bar and when the kick means a Championship, you go with the safe shot. Finally, ignore the goalkeeper. He is there to intimidate. Donovan misses on all three counts:
I can't help but compare his miss to Roberto Baggio's in the 1994 World Cup Final. It was way over the bar and gave Brazil the match.
There are some serious questions to ask about his ability to cope under pressure next year during the World Cup in South Africa. Do we want him taking penalties for the US next year? Donovan has generally been very good at penalties so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Over the bar is a shot borne of arrogance.