Which USMNTer other than Landon Donovan would be your top PK option?

Donovan PK (Reuters Pictures)

The United States national team is in desperate need of a goal in the waning minutes. After a foul in the area, the referee points to the spot. Penalty! One problem. For whatever reason, Landon Donovan isn't on the matchday roster. Somebody else has to step up and take the kick.

In light of Clint Dempsey's penalty against Chelsea yesterday, it got us to thinking: Who in the U.S. player pool would be the best non-Donovan option should the situation arise?

Given Donovan's command of penalty-taking duties and his penchant for being a part of every crucial U.S. match, this is likely to be nothing more than a hypothetical situation; however, it's always good to be prepared for a surprise scenario.

So who are some of the top options?

For starters, there's Dempsey. Had Petr Cech guessed incorrectly, Dempsey would be lauded as a hero for winning yet another match for Fulham. Granted, penalties haven't been his strongsuit over time, but he represents perhaps the strongest overall offensive weapon available for coach Bob Bradley.

As for the strikers, World Cup participants Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez and Edson Buddle are all viable options, though not one of them has converted a penalty kick for the United States as recently as Teal Bunbury, whose PK against Chile rescued a draw in last month's friendly.

What about some of the other midfielders? Michael Bradley and Stuart Holden come to mind as two confident, skillful options who would have no problem overcoming the mental hurdle of the penalty situation.

Then there's the captain: Carlos Bocanegra. Who better to shoulder the pressure of an intense moment than the team's leader?

Those are just some of the possibilities. Who would you want to see step to the spot if Donovan were not available? Cast your vote here:

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123 Responses to Which USMNTer other than Landon Donovan would be your top PK option?

  1. Thomas says:

    Until last night, I probably would’ve said Deuce.

  2. Turner says:

    Gotta be Holden. It goes back to MLS Cup 06 when he was a rookie and hit one upper 90. He’s a cool customer.

  3. Steve-O21 says:

    It has to be Cherundolo. He routinely takes free kicks for Hannover and he is old enough and experienced enough to know what to do when he gets to the spot. No second-guessing himself…

  4. Ericrace1 says:

    Has to be done…

    I like dat Boon-boo-ree, I like dat Boon-boo-ree!!!

    Although – I agree that probably Holden would be my guy. He seems comfortable in the moment…should’ve had a late goal on Sunday too.

  5. MikeD says:

    Holden, Bradley, Edu, Cherundolo

  6. tedhill says:

    Michael Bradley took some for Gladbach and Heerenveen and I seem to remember him doing well. And Holden I would be confident in as well.

  7. Jasongatties says:

    Too much is being made of Dempsey’s miss. He’s taken a few for Fulham and didn’t miss…until last night. Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham, Donovan….all have missed.

    That being said, he’s not our #2 option. I like Holden in that situation.

  8. soccerintn says:

    Cherundolo it is for the same reasons.

  9. Klaus says:

    I still like Duece. That being said, I have always found it good practice to have a player other than the one who earned to penalty to take the spot kick.

  10. Dave says:

    Dempsey scores big goals. Period. When the pressure is on he scores big goals. Relegation Savers. Europa Cup stunners.

  11. Jahoki says:

    Have not seen Holden taken any PKs so I went with Bradley. But it doesn’t matter in my opinion. Whomever is feeling it and wants to step up can take it.

  12. Vince says:

    Despite last night’s miss, Deuce is still probably number two. It happens to the best of them. And Donovan missed in the MLS Cup 2 years ago.

    Michael Bradley’s taken a few big time pks for his club teams — including shootout clincher for Gladbach in the German Cup earlier this year (of course, Gladbach got bounced in the next round…) — so he’d be in the mix as well.

    Cherundulo has indeed taken pks for Hannover on occasion.

    I don’t doubt that Holden could handle it as well, but he’s probably at least behind Donovan, Deuce, and Bradley at this point.

    I have never seen Edu take a spot kick, so I have no opinion there.

  13. john.q says:

    dempsey’s miss is being overblown. it happens to the most elite players.

    that said i’d pick bradley with holden a close 2nd. bradley’s done it before for his clubs and his steely attitude should hold up well in those high-pressure situations.

  14. Vince says:

    I’m not a Jozy hater, because I think he’s still light years ahead of Agudelo and Bunbery at this point. But at this stage of his career Altidore is probably the most likely to rocket a spot kick into row Z. He’d just be too amped up.

  15. MikeD says:

    My only reason for adding Edu as an option is that he seems to strike the ball pretty cleanly. I’ve never seen him take one though. As long as he can handle the pressure he’d probably be an option.

  16. jake says:

    I wouldn’t have. What would have made you say Deuce?

  17. kimo says:

    Holden. Isn’t it obvious? The glare from his beautiful golden mane would be enough to distract even the most veteran of GKs.

  18. wilyboy says:

    Bradley, because he’s just consistent and clinical, and he seems to not let the pressure ever get to his head. Wouldn’t be perhaps the most eye catching of PK takers, but a damn good one nonetheless.

    Not sure Holden has that mentality, he’s a hard worker and a big asset, but not a leader of men.

  19. Czo13 says:

    Deuce or Holden, It was a good pen, just a better save

  20. Barry U says:

    Duece is #2, Holden, MB, Dolo tied for third! If you saw the match Duece was gassed and Danny Murphy who usually takes the Fulham penalties was subed out a few minutes prior. The announcers and Mark Hughes had complaints about Drogba running into the box when he took his set up. Also, Cech came off his line a little bit it looked like. Ref gave the penalty and was not going to give anything else! Duece is still the $70MM mad at Fulham for his goal vs. Liverpool to secure EPl status!

  21. JamesC says:

    I still say Dempsey. Last night means very little to me. 90+ minutes into a league game against one of the best keepers in the world. Dempsey looked exhausted. He put it on target and gave it a chance with a hard low shot. I’ve seen far worse attempts, like Donovan skying it over the bar dead center of the goal in the MLS Cup Final.

  22. Cody says:

    Don’t you mean against Chelsea??? Not trying to nitpick lol

  23. mosler says:

    When I think of Dempsey and PK’s, I first think of him (in)famously begging off of the chance to take one during the 2006 MLS final v. Houston leading to Jay Heaps’ heroic (and awful) attempt to fill the gap.

    The surprise isn’t that he happened to hit a poor one yesterday, it’s that he has been electing to take them at all.

  24. Waterlewd says:

    Agreed, and not enough is being made of Cech’s saves. He had two good saves against Dempsey. Dempsey created both those chances by himself in a match that was devoid of many chances, and on a Fulham team that were inept and not even threatening offensively. Mark Hughes should have changed the tactics after 20 minutes and pressed the ball further up the pitch. Hughes did get the substitutes correct, and that almost won them the match. But it was such a bore to watch.

  25. Jonn says:

    Ridiculous how overblown this is. It’s not like he was shooting into an empty net. Peter Cech is a world class keeper and has a ridiculous wingspan. Everyone misses pks. Roberto Baggio probably missed the biggest PK in history and if Italy had to do it over he stll would have kicked last. Beckham missed the PK that eliminated England in the Euros. So what? I’d rather have Dempsey take pks then having to watch Donovan do that stupid kissing ritual. What killed Dempsey was that he was celebrating too early and the rebound surprised him.

  26. Brokenbil says:

    I’ve read that Kenny Cooper is good on PKs. I’m curious if can return to form in MLS this season.

  27. ryan says:

    I thought the exact same thing. The risk would totally be worth the Boon Boo Ree after he scores.

  28. OmarVizquel says:

    Tim Howard. Because it’s hilariously demoralizing when a GK makes a pen.

    (But Cherundolo really….)

  29. ryan says:

    …stoppage time against Chelsea… wait nevermind.

    But your right, save for yesterday Dempsey has been very clutch throughout his career. Scored our only goal in ’06

  30. Troy says:

    Holden has great confidence. He’s still a little green compared to the others but I’d trust him on the line.

  31. will burton says:

    Im not sure who I’d pick but Donovan is NOT my first choice. Seen him shank a few.

    Knowing Bradley, I would have to think that Mikey is high on his list. Lol

  32. Jonathan says:

    Light years ahead of Agudelo and Burnberry??? A strikers job is to score goals… Agudelo and Boon boo ree have 1 thing on their mind when they get the ball at their feet. Jozy has had about 4 years of professional training and still can’t figure this out. SCORE!!!

  33. Keith G. says:

    You have to say its Dempsey, sorry people but he is the best player that wears a USA uniform. Oh my god the guy missed a PK, I recall Donovan has missed them as well. I mean come on if say the Galaxy were in last seasons MLS Cup final and Donovan missed a game winning PK would you be saying that he shouldnt take them anymore. Leave it alone people, no one is perfect, I mean they say the Germans are some of the best PK takers and as Bayern fan I have witnessed guys like Schwienstiger and even Lahm miss PK’s for them and Germany is saying they shouldnt take them anymore.

  34. Hokie_Futbol says:

    I would chalk that up to a badly taken penalty more than a great save by cech. he guessed the right way and deuce hit it very poorly. It was about half-way towards the post. My friend said well that’s exactly where you are told not to hit a penalty and i agree. i think that dempsey was just gassed. that being said i would think it would between dempsey, holden, and bradley. whoever has the best legs and confidence at that moment should take it. my vote was for holden as #2.

  35. MLS_4_Life says:

    Speaking from experience as a GK, Clint’s PK was PATHETIC. It low to the ground and barely to the right of Cech who is a world class GK. As a PK taker, you have to place the ball in the right spot (accuracy). The hardest spots for a GK to get to are the upper and lower corners. Honestly I don’t trust any of these fools besides Donovan. You might as well just flip a coin or better yet let’s have Timmy Howard take the PK – a US version of Rogerio Ceni!

  36. Mike Caramba says:

    I’m a little surprised Holden is so high. Has he taken many penalties? (Not that that’s necessarily…necessary.)

    Despite his miss yesterday, I had to go with Deuce. Bradley would probably be my next choice. Maybe Holden after that.

  37. MLS_4_Life says:


  38. tnnelson says:

    not a leader of men? i don’t know if i can completely agree with you. Owen Coyle described Holden as a “player you can build a team around,” and i agree with that. he is still coming into himself as a player and with a few more years in the premier league i could see holden being very Donovan-esque for the USMNT in the future.

    not taking anything away from Michael Bradley though. he is already a leader and is one of the younger World Cup vets. could definitely see him wearing the captain’s armband someday

  39. jim in Atlanta says:

    How does Jozy only get 2% vote? He is our starting striker right? Unbelievable.

  40. euroman says:

    Those that take the dead ball situations are the ones most trusted to do the right thing and have the skill to place the ball where they wish. Donovan, Stuey, Torres…..whould be primary PK takers.

  41. FXB says:

    He was tired!!!! Give him a break, I still trust him.

  42. tnnelson says:

    seen him shank a few? so has every great player ever, i promise you that. Donovan is extremely clutch from the spot and has proved that time and time again for years, and i wouldn’t chose anyone over him to take it from the spot. every player misses them. look at this season in the premier league already this year. Rooney, Gerrard, Drogba, van der Vaart, and many others i can’t remember have all missed in clutch games. saying he has “shanked a few” doesn’t mean anything when he has made dozens and dozens of others consecutively. yea he has choked before, but so has everyone in some way in every sport ever. relax

  43. Thorpinski says:

    Deuce, Deuce and then Deuce. One missed PK doe not a player make. He is imo the mentally toughest player on our team.

    And this SBI poll reeks of Trollism.

  44. Eurosnob says:

    For whatever it is worth, Jozy scored a winning goal for Villareal last year in a penalty shootout. He would not be my second choice behind Donovan, but he can be trusted to take a penalty kick in a pressure situation.

  45. Isaac says:

    For me it’s Dempsey hands down. The guy not only exhibits high-level finishing, but has nerves of steel in the toughest of situations. After that, it’s a tie between Holden and Bradley. Bradley was trusted to take some penalties for Herenveen and Gladbach, but Holden seems to also have great finishing and everyone remembers his excellent penalty against New England. Then again, he had a penalty saved by Matt Reis in a game in 2008 I believe. After that I would take Steve cherundolo. Like people have said, Cherundolo is a composed veteran who has taken some very good free kicks for Hannover. Moreover, I can’t get out of my mind that absolute CANNON of a free kick Cherundolo had against Poland back in a pre-World Cup friendly in Poland.

  46. Shane says:

    Those who think it should be Dempsey are looney. He puts them down the middle. Cech knew exactly where that PK was going and so did most Fulham supporters. Until he shows better, I dont want him near a PK. I say baby Bradley, ne has the nerve and a really hard kick. Holden next for me only cause I dont think he has the nerve of Bradley. I would maybe say Boon boo ry if I knew he would be playing much for the US but we dont know that yet.

  47. Alex says:

    Agreed. I’ve never seen someone who’s as oblivious to perceived pressure as Stu

  48. Aristotle says:

    I want to nominate myself since deuce cleaner doesn’t cut the cheese with a stainless steel knife.

  49. Tony in Quakleand says:

    It’s not a judgment on Dempsey’s skill, desire or nerve to say he’s not your top choice for taking PKs. It’s a judgment on him taking PKs, PERIOD.

    Some great goal scorers have not been good PK takers. Hell, on my son’s club team, our top scorer couldn’t hit a PK if you removed the keeper. Some people are good at it, some aren’t. It has always been this way

  50. Eugene T says:

    Cooper’s very good. I saw him take a lot of PKs in his time with FC Dallas and he never missed or had one stopped.

    Hopefully he finally starts utilizing his size advantage in MLS this year.

  51. Will says:

    hahah +1

  52. Eurosnob says:

    Jonathan, Vince’s assessment is right on the money. Jozy led the US in goals scored in the WC qualifying. And guess who scored for the US against Spain in the confederations cup? Nothing against Agudelo or Burnberry, but they are not even regular starters for USMNT. When one of them leads the US in scoring in a WC qualifying or score a meaningful goal for the USMNT against an elite opponent in a meaningful competition, then we can discuss their scoring achievements. At the age of 16, Jozy scored three times in seven appearances for NYRB. How many goals did Agudelo score for the same team last season at the age of 18? Jozy played in EPL and La Liga, while Agudelo and Bunbury are still breaking into MLS. Yes, Agudelo and Bunbury are exciting prospects, but let’s not act like they are a second coming of Messi.

  53. OmarVizquel says:

    Of all his strengths, “clinical finishing” and “powerful shot” are waaaay down the list. Yes, this is distressing for our starting striker, but them’s the facts.

  54. Will says:

    Because he does everything but score!

  55. A.S. says:

    What makes you say that Landon is the clear #1 choice? I remember him missing big PKs in the MLS final and in the 2007 SuperLiga final.

    My first choice would probably be Dolo, but, really, I’d want to see video of all of the PKs taken (for club and country) by all of the potential choices. I’m sure Bob Bradley has that video, while I don’t.

  56. Famos1 says:

    agreed! You are too in the moment to be a cool customer when you earn the penalty yourself.

  57. Eurosnob says:

    Holden is not a leader? Consider what happened to Houston Dynamo after Holden and Ricardo Clark left. And if I recall correctly it was Holden who they were trying really hard to retain. And for a good reason. Just compare Dynamo’s performance during the season with Holden and their season without Holden.

  58. Kevin_Amold says:

    Yes. It’s probably not quite as demoralizing as when Brad Friedel does this to you….

    link to youtube.com

  59. Kevin says:

    Penalty kicks have nothing to do with skill, all about the mind game. You want the most experienced, clutch player at the spot. My pick would be Jermaine Jones or Bocanegra. Both veteran, gritty players who don’t seem fazed by too much.

  60. Emmanuel says:

    1. Holden
    2. Dempsey
    3. Cherundolo
    4. Bradley

    To be honest, I wouldn’t mind any of these guys taking the penalty… just don’t let Jozy take it

  61. Emmanuel says:


    a “really hard kick”

    that’s funny

  62. Vince says:

    Jonathan, I was curious, so I ran the numbers (these are pro level games only so no youth teams):

    Altidore 121 games played/30 goals 25% strike rate (1 every 4 games)

    Bunbury 28 GPs/6 goals 21% rate (about 1 every 5 games)

    Agudelo 6 GPs/ 1 goal (obviously, 1 goal every 6 games)

    Now, it’s not a perfect analogy, but in theory, Agudelo and Bunbury should have higher percentage numbers with smaller sample sizes — and they don’t.

    For Altidore, his 15 goals with the Metro Stars really help, but then all of Bunbury’s goals (except for the Chile pk) are MLS, too. Jozy has scored 10 goals for the USMNT in 32 games, so his strike rate for the Nats has actually been much better than his recent club play.

    The argument for Agudelo would be to count his obscene U17 numbers, but then Jozy lit it up at the U17 and U20 levels as well — so that’s a wash.

    The overall point is that while I agree Jozy can do better, I’m not ready to throw him under the bus quite yet. He’s had some production, and his strike rate is statistically higher right now than Bunbury or Agudelo.

    You want to compare development at their ages? Okay, Altidore scored 15 MLS goals when he was 18. Bunbury scored 5 MLS goals last year when he was 20. Agudulo is 18 this year, so let’s see if he can match Jozy’s 15 goals scored in his first year in MLS — that’ll be a pretty good comparison.

    I like Bunbury and Agudelo, but let’s slow down the irrational hype machine a bit.

    (If I remember correctly, last year at this time the fan hype machine proclaimed Jose Torres the Great Creative Missing Link and that La Liga teams were lining up for him. That didn’t quite work out so well….)

  63. Northzax says:

    Messi, you say? Why would you want them to be like Messi? That guy’s kissed TWO penalties this season alone. And those weren’t saves, he flat out missed. From 36 feet away he was unable to hit a 192 square foot box. What a hack.

  64. Czo13 says:

    So can we make Friedel a 90+ min sub. He had great composure on that strike. :) hehe

  65. Josh D says:

    Agree. Holden is our calmest player and is playing the soccer of his life so I’d trust him.

  66. TBE says:

    I find it weird that people are using words like “ridiculous” and “overblown.”

    I have not seen one comment, or even a suggestion in a news article, that Dempsey isn’t good enough or shouldn’t have taken the penalty. It was not a good penalty. So what? Lots of good players have taken poor ones.

    I like Dempsey a lot and would probably take him before any other US player on my team, but the wankfest for the guy on this site is sometimes “ridiculous.”

  67. Thomas says:

    His confidence and swagger. You need that to take a penalty…although it was lacking on his face as he stepped up last night. I actually thought that he would miss it because he didn’t look confident.

  68. david says:

    its all about Dolo!

  69. Bryan says:

    Have you seen how many PKs Landon has converted for the Nats? Of course he’s the clear #1…He’s missed a few PKs at the club level, but he very rarely misses for the National team.

  70. Eurosnob says:

    Vince, I agree with your analysis. The only thing that I would add is that, if Jozy’s numbers are in part based upon his EPL and La Liga performance, his numbers are even more impressive because he faced much stiffer competition than MLS provides.

  71. Rob says:

    I said Holden. He is the most technically sound player we have. I still fail to realize why everyone think Deuce can take set pieces. He can’t take freekicks to save his life and his penalties have been that fantastic. He scored one a couple weeks ago for Fulham which was convincing. I definitely don’t see how he is a lock for second choice penalty taker.

  72. Jonathan says:

    Vince good job on the evidence, but there comes a point when we have to stop providing excuses for the kid. I’m not trying to throw him under the bus, but in the last year, i’ve seen no evidence otherwise than he’s allergic to the goal posts

  73. DC Josh says:

    Jaime Moreno.

    -DC United Bias.

  74. chewp says:

    he hit it hard and low.. good save and not a perfect pk

  75. Jack says:

    Holden, Bradley, Cherundolo, and (despite that penalty kick–I mean, come on, you can’t judge someones abilities on one small moment in a long career) Dempsey would all be in my top three, no particular order. I don’t know what Bradley’s role at AV will be now, but all three of them have experience taking kicks at the club level. Holden in particular seems to have very, very good nerves.

    What it comes down to, though, is what’s happening in the game. I don’t think that you can really plan ahead of time who takes a PK because every game is going to be different. If all four of these guys are exhausted or have taken some bad knocks, I’d rather have someone else take it.

  76. Jack says:

    And by top three, I mean top four. Time to find myself some coffee and wake up…

  77. asoccerroo says:

    yeah you give it to Cherundolo or Bocanegro because we are talking about occasional PK. Defenders walk up and say “No one thinks I am going to make it so here we go.” they tend to keep it simple and generally score. That is my experience from club and college.

  78. Marcus says:

    With Dempsey i’m always worried he’s about to do something too “cute” and unnecessary…i feel like he’d be the kind of guy that would change his mind at the last second and not be able to get enough on the shot.

    I feel like Bradley would more likely know where he’s going with the ball beforehand and put it there.

  79. JMR says:

    He’s been stopped more than once in PK’s. Ask any Rev’s fan.

  80. todobrillante says:

    I think the whole “he was tired” argument is a weak one. All these guys are professional athletes who can run for 90 minutes with relative ease…stepping up and kicking a penalty isn’t about stamina. And if stamina does effect Clint (or any other player) that much after 90 minutes than I don’t want them anywhere near the spot after 120 minutes of regulation and overtime.

  81. vik says:

    Yea, holden seems obvious, but penalties are all about experience. Cherundolo can strike the ball just fine, and experience is key for those high pressure moments. Gotta be ‘dolo.

  82. Peter says:

    I am sorry miss or no miss Dempsey takes the penalty. He is the only one with the balls to say I am ready give it to me. I guarentee he fights anyone for that honor. This guy is not afraid!

  83. Warren says:

    Because…he scored last time he took a Ok a couple weeks ago, against EPL-quality goalies.

    Which is more than we can say for pretty much anyone else on team.

    Landon is rock solid though on pk’s to give him credit.

    For #2 it’s still Dempsey in my book, even if one of top goalies in world Petr Cech yesterday – guessed right on him.

  84. Warren says:


  85. Warren says:

    doubt it

  86. Warren says:

    MLS is better than even a couple years ago.

    Obviously not an elite league yet but still, was easier to score 15 when Jozy was around.

  87. Warren says:

    yeah, starting cm, free kick and corner kick taker on #8 EPL squad…he’s no leader. right.

    On other hand, benched by last place Buindesliga team, bails for EPL rather than leads fight out of relegation…there’s a leader.

    Actually I agree Mike has a leader’s mentality, but Holden’s got the leader’s accomplishments.

  88. Warren says:

    Yeah Dempsey 5 years ago is same player as today. Or not.

  89. Warren says:

    Speaking of ridiculous overblown wankfests…oh wait that was only what you are talking about.

    Rest of us are debating a missed pk and who else might be good after Donovan as USMNT pk taker. According to poll folks seem to like Holden Bradley, and Dempsey…as commenters have said Cherundolo probably has taken more in pressure situations so personally I would bring him as # 3 after Donovan, Dempsey Is that wanking or just being realistic?

  90. Warren says:

    Donovan’s not 100% witness the MLS final the other year, but who is.

    Domovsan must be in the high 90’s in terms of reliability as pk taker. Doubt anyone on team statistically is at his level from pk spot – someone do more research!

  91. korey says:

    Brad Davis!!!!

  92. Scott A says:

    Interesting to me that Holden is in the lead. I voted for him and wasn’t entirely sure why apart from this superb free kicks. I guess everyone gets the same feeling from him that I do.

  93. Macho says:

    I like to Buun…..buuuuu…..ryyyyy!!!!!!

  94. Mingjai says:

    I think the glare from Michael Bradley’s noggin would be quite distracting as well. I guess we’d need to scout the GK to see if he’s more susceptible to hair glare or head glare.

  95. Royals in 208 says:

    Stu Holden is as good an option as Donovan. Deuce is right up there too. Misses happen.

  96. Ed says:

    To say he was benched or bailed on BMG is just grossly inaccurate.

  97. Nicole says:

    But it’s not just one missed PK. He has a history of missing…or, wisely, bowing out and not even taking one.

    Funny…Donovan is a master at taking PKs. And he’s usually clutch. And yet how many folks always put an asterisk on his goal-scoring record by saying, “yeah, but how many are PKs?” As if PKs are a given and are easy. And or course, only about 1/4 are PKs to begin with.

    On the list, I’d say Michael Bradley, Stu Holden and/or Maurice Edu.

  98. Nicole says:

    Donovan scored a clutch PK in the World Cup for crying out loud. He scored a PK in the Confed Cup against “one of the best keepers in the world.” And his percentage of making PKs is astronomical. You can probably count on one hand how many he’s missed. Of course he’s the clear No. 1 choice.

  99. Jolivernyc says:

    Stuart Holden strikes a ball as well as anyone in the national team pool right now, including Landon. Watching him play for Bolton this year, you see a player who wants the ball all the time. He has such confidence in himself right now, which is incredibly important for a penalty taker. I’ve always been a fan of the philosophy of giving penalties to players who want to take them. Confidence is more than half the battle. The rest is striking the ball on target and getting lucky with the goalkeeper not guessing the right way.

  100. AshortDeparture says:

    If you’ll remember about a month ago Gerrard made a similar storming run late in the Liverpool v. Blackburn game and earned a penalty, which he then took rather tamely and had it saved. Same thing with Dempsey, you can’t expect a player to maintain the perfect poise required for a quality PK after dancing around defenders on a thirty yard run. It’d still be Dempsey in my book, especially since the rest of the Nats, excluding Donovan, don’t take the initiative, which should say something about their confidence in that sort of situation.

  101. rob says:

    Also scored off a direct free kick too last season IIRC

  102. Neuwerld says:

    Cherundolo, Holden, Bradley, maybe Bocanegra. Everyone else I would be hesitant to go with. I can see a lot of other guys shanking them over the bar or hitting them right at the GK.

    Dempsey is undoubtedly one of the best American players, but I don’t think he is a good PK taker. All the ones I’ve seen him take were a comfortable height and not in the corner. And for what it’s worth, he also missed both of his PKs in MLS shootouts.

  103. Warren says:

    Umm…he was benched, because he was about to bail. 100% accurate.

    You could say they benched him to make sure he didn’t get hurt before a trade or loan came through, which may well be.

    But also 100% accurate to say he bailed out and in out in transfer or laon request, to get off a team looking like it was going to be relegated.

    Rather than fighting to keep team up as Dempsey and others have done.

    So at least in my book, not the greatest display of leadership.

    Nothing wrong with pursuing self-interest, but we shouldn’t pretend that’s not what it was.

  104. Warren says:

    Actually it’s skill plus mind game, which is why in PK shootouts forwards and middies usually shoot first, although some defenders are exceptionally good at taking pk’s, eg Dolo.

  105. Brian says:

    I’m pretty sure I was the one who posed this question yesterday in the Dempsey’s post, but haha it’s cool SBI. I’m glad you made a post out of it.

    In like a Gold Cup, Confederations Cup, or World Cup knockout round penalty shootout, my first 5 penalty takers would be:

    Donovan, Cherundolo, Bocanegra, Holden and Bradley.

  106. Brian says:

    I don’t think Jozy would be all that bad. A guy in the comments the Dempsey post yesterday was telling me he saw some video where the USMNT had a penalty taking competition and Jozy came in first and Dolo came in second.

  107. Brian says:

    Yes he missed the one against RSL in the MLS Cup Final and against Pachuca in the Superliga Final, but tell me how many have you ever seen miss for the national team? I can’t recall any. He’s made them in the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, the Gold Cup and in qualifying. Everyone misses them every once in a while. I’m sure Donovan’s percentage is fantastic.

  108. Brian says:

    He has a powerful shot. You can’t deny that. Just not so much the clinical finishing. I’m hearing from other SBI posters that Jozy is pretty good at penalties.

  109. joel says:

    Dempsey is still the man

  110. BrianVT says:

    Junior is ice water. He’s my #2, although it could just as easily be Stu.

  111. GW says:

    “I’m not a Jozy hater,”


    Seems like the whole idea of your post is to tell everyone you think Jozy isn’t professional enough to take a penalty. That’s an insult to him, by the way.

  112. GW says:

    No legitimate international goal keeper will care if the opposing keeper lines up to take a penalty.

    During penalty shootouts in the World Cup and other big competitions, you will see that the keeper often winds up taking penalties. It’s no big deal. If he doesn’t already, Howard should be practicing taking penalties because you never know when a shootout could go extra long and he might be needed.

    Look up the great Paraguayan keeper Jose Luis Chilavert. Besides penalties he often took free kicks in the opposite half and scored 62 goals in his pro career including 8 for Paraguay. This is twice as many as Holden and Dolo, combined, have scored for the US.

    Or you could look up Rogerio Ceni of Sao Paulo and Brazil who, with 98 goals from free kicks and penalty kicks has the record for a pro keeper.

  113. GW says:

    If that’s how you are going to play it then:

    1. El Diablo

    2. Moreno

    3. Pope

    4. Adu

    5. Olsen

  114. GW says:

    What amazes me about all these posts is that no one has mentioned how singularly remarkable Deuce’s overhead kick on the rebound was.

    It wasn’t that far off and I’m still trying to figure out how he did it. If he had made it, it would have been an all time highlight.

  115. GW says:

    ” but we shouldn’t pretend that’s not what it was.”

    Unless you have inside sources, you’re pretending to know how things were at BMG behind the scenes.

    “Rather than fighting to keep team up as Dempsey and others have done”

    Are you saying Dempsey or “others” had a choice?

    So in 2007 when Deuce scored that goal against Liverpool to keep Fulham up, he turned down a transfer to Chelsea; instead he bravely chose to stay with Fulham and fight it out? Dream on.

    You are mistaking a relegation fight for the Alamo.

    Fulham’s recent relegation concerns haven’t been anywhere near was dire as BMG’s were just before they loaned out MB. They had fewer points than games at the halfway mark and were beyond extremely unlikely to avoid the drop.

    You and I don’t know what MB said or wanted but it seems unlikely he could have stayed even he wanted to.

  116. Wondolowski says:


  117. Joamiq says:

    This is a bit of a silly debate. All of these guys should be able to make PKs without any problem. When you have to decide who should take a PK, the best choice is probably the player with the most confidence at the time. If someone missed a sitter earlier in the game, or missed a PK two weeks ago, that’s likely to be on their minds when they step up. So I think the answer really depends on what’s happened lately.

    I suspect that Jones’ confidence is pretty steady, so he’s probably usually a good call. Same with Bradley. Probably Holden as well. For now? Why not go with Bunbury? His confidence when he steps up to the spot is probably pretty high right now.