MLS: Camilo And Whitecaps Impeccable From The Spot In 2013

Written by Ian Thomson

Five successful penalties helped Brazilian forward Camilo Sanvezzo to become this season’s Major League Soccer Golden Boot winner and his Vancouver Whitecaps to become the league’s most lethal team from 12 yards.

Scottish designated player Kenny Miller added another successful spot kick as the Whitecaps scored on each of the six occasions that they were awarded a penalty this year. Camilo buried three of his efforts into the goalkeeper’s bottom-right corner with two shots driven down the middle.

Penalties awarded per team
Penalties awarded per team

Three teams matched Vancouver’s haul of six goals from the penalty spot – MLS Cup finalists Real Salt Lake, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Columbus Crew.

Salt Lake converted six of seven attempts with Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin foiling one of Alvaro Saborio’s five efforts during the Rapids’ 1-0 win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Apr. 6.

Landon Donovan’s failure to score from either of his two efforts left the Galaxy with a 75 percent success rate from eight kicks. F.C. Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez and Houston Dynamo’s Tally Hall both pulled off comfortable saves to deny the league’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Robbie Keane netted all five of his attempts for Los Angeles including two games that saw the Irishman step up to the spot twice. Michael Gspurning left his goal line while saving Keane’s first effort during the Seattle Sounders’ 4-0 thumping at the Home Depot Center on May 26. Keane converted the retake and switched corner after referee Baldomero Toledo awarded a second penalty.

Keane’s second penalty brace came in a controversial 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew on July 4. The visitors’ lead was overcome in injury time after the Galaxy’s designated player pulled a heinous dive that fooled referee Sorin Stoica.

Mike Magee netted the first penalty of the season for Los Angeles before being traded to the Chicago Fire.

Columbus earned a league-leading nine penalties. Federico Higuain’s six conversions also led the league. The Argentine forward blotted his record twice at Crew Stadium with one shot dragged wide of the Portland Timbers’ goal and another kept out by New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles. Crew rookie Ryan Finley saw his sole effort against the Houston Dynamo blocked by Tally Hall.

Montreal Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier continued his magnificence from the spot by converting his team’s four penalties. Two of Bernier’s strikes arrived during the same game – a 4-2 win at the New England Revolution on Sept. 8. The veteran Canadian national team player has calmly converted each of his 10 penalties in the past two years.

Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers also converted four from four with Claudio Bieler and Will Johnson stepping up respectively on three occasions.

There were 81 penalty kicks awarded during the regular season and two given in the post-season leading into Saturday’s MLS Cup Final. The kicker found the net on 65 occasions, goalkeepers made 13 saves, two shots hit the crossbar, two were sent wide and Houston’s Giles Barnes sailed his effort over the target.

Philadelphia Union was the only team that did not receive a penalty kick.

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Chivas USA’s ineptitude spread to the penalty spot with a 33 percent conversion rate. Jose Correa thumped his effort against the Colorado Rapids’ crossbar during a 1-0 loss at the Home Depot Center on April 13. Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando thwarted Edgar Mejia the following week as Chivas again fell by a single goal.

Errick Torres finally found the net for the Goats at the third attempt during a 3-2 win over New York on Aug. 25.

Penalties conceded per team
Penalties conceded per team

Luis Robles faced more penalties than any other goalkeeper as the Red Bulls coughed up a league-high of 10 spot kicks. The former Kaiserslautern stopper denied Dwayne De Rosario as well as Higuain but was beaten on seven occasions. Chris Rolfe dragged another attempt wide of Robles’ goal during the Chicago Fire’s 3-1 win at Toyota Park on April 7.

Nick Rimando batted away two of the three kicks that he faced, making saves to deny New England’s Saer Sene as well as Mejia of Chivas USA. Camilo sent the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper the wrong way at B.C. Place on April 13 to rescue a 1-1 tie for Vancouver.

 

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