Alejandro Pozuelo and Pablo Piatti react to Toronto penalty
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC penalty blunder: 7 questions for Alejandro Pozuelo and Pablo Piatti | Sam Jones

Last night, Toronto FC’s Alejandro Pozuelo and Pablo Piatti attempted this: 

I, like many of you, have some questions. Not any about why it was disallowed or anything like that (Piatti encroached. Can’t encroach.) but questions on a much more metaphysical level.

To be very, very, very clear here, this is an appreciation post. What Pozuelo and Pablo have done is art. Art can sometimes be nothing more than the existence of something for existence’s sake. This clip exists for no reason. And we’re all better for it.

In a perfect world, I would get a one-on-two interview with both of them. I actually did have one scheduled, but Piatti showed up too early and the whole thing got canceled.

Here’s what I would have asked.

LOL, WHAT?

Not hard-hitting sure, but it’s what the people want to know. This is the fourth estate in action. I just ... it’s so remarkably unnecessary. No one asked them to do this. No one really wanted them to do this. Might have been pretty cool if they’d pulled it off but it wouldn’t have been revolutionary. It’s the you and me equivalent of being asked to step forward in line at the bank, shaking your head with a slight grin on your face and saying “Please.” and then attempting a twisting backflip that results in nothing but you getting a concussion.

To take a very practical perspective: Even if you had successfully done it ... like ... why? At best someone goes home and says “Hey, I saw a guy do a backflip at the bank today” followed by their roommate or a family member saying “Oh, that’s cool” and returning to watching TikTok memes.

Did you know you were up?

Normally when you see this go down, the other team is at least winning. It’s usually a pass off the backboard to yourself when you're up 30 to seal the game kind of thing. Because you absolutely lower your chances of converting when you do this. On top of encroachment, you’re introducing a wild amount of variables into this that greatly exceed the two variables — did you put it on target and did the keeper dive the right way — that make a regular penalty mostly a gimme.

Montreal saw it as disrespectful.

“Probably they were a bit cocky because they beat us two days or three days ago,” Montreal goalkeeper, Clement Diop, said. “This is what happens when you don’t respect your opponent. You try to do tricky stuff. You’re down 1-0 and you try to do tricky stuff.”

Greg Vanney didn’t see the point.

“Not sure what is going on on the penalty kick,” Vanney said. “We're down a goal, we should just be burying the ball in the back of the net and moving on.”

But that’s all ok. Good art is evocative. What I think happened here is that Pozuelo and Piatti had been talking about it for weeks. It didn’t matter the circumstances. I haven’t seen everything before the penalty, but I imagine that the penalty was awarded, they looked each other in the eyes, said something to the effect of “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird,” shared a tender embrace and launched themselves toward immortality. We should all do this at least once in our lives.

Did you know Thierry Henry was watching?

First off, if I ever embarrassed myself in front of Thierry Henry, I would actually have to go to a second therapist. Secondly, I wonder if they’d seen this: 

It might explain why they so desperately wanted to shoot their literal and metaphorical shot. It would be an incredible moment to show one of the great players of all time that they could do what he couldn’t. Except, ya know, the thing after “first off” happened. Call me y’all, I know some folks who can help.

You at least watched a ton of videos of this working before yesterday though, right?

Someone definitely came across a video of Messi and Suarez doing it in 2016, or Johan Cruyff and Jesper Olsen for Ajax in 1982 in the last few weeks and sent a message that said something like “lol can you imagine?” which resulted in about 100 different versions of “I know right ... but also …” until they finally just committed. It’s the same reason one of your friends went viral, ended up in jail, or lost an appendage. Possibly all three.

Pozuelo even basically kind of admitted to this.

“I think normally it's a goal. I saw in other countries they do and they score like this,” the Spaniard said after the game in English.

Who among us hasn’t seen a video and said “Oh, I can totally do that”?

Will you advocate for the legislation change this moment inspires?

{ahem} Praxis.

This should inspire a fight. Remember, there is right and wrong and then there is the law. We’re here to fight for what is right. “Technically” what Piatti did was “illegal” and “an infraction resulting in an indirect free kick.” Which isn’t even a thing. How can you indirectly kick something?

To make a larger point, VAR should be tossed aside on goals that are clearly and obviously about to get a metric ton of Twitter interactions. After they decide that an infraction was committed that under normal circumstances would disallow a goal, there should be an instant poll taken from the MLS Twitter account that decides if the goal is too good to disallow. It would solve so many of the world’s problems.

The micro point here is that if you actually successfully do the tap-on penalty kick you should automatically win the game. I’ve said for years that all sports are missing their Golden Snitch. You do it and you win the game right then and there. The problem with it in Harry Potter is that it’s the central focus of the game. It needs to be tied to singular moments that only occur once every few games. The absolute drama of penalty kicks when a team can ruin another team so thoroughly in one moment that the other team actually has to leave the field.

It would also save Pozuelo and Piatti some grief for doing it down one. I’m trying to help y’all here.

Would you do it again?

The answer here should be “absolutely.” We went to the moon because it’s really hard to get to the moon. We climbed Mount Everest because it existed. So what if this would have only resulted in a goal we probably would have gotten anyway?

As I said in this morning’s Daily Kickoff, I think the beauty is in the effort. A goal in soccer is equivalent to like 50 points in basketball. This is the equivalent of a team getting an opportunity at a 50-point free throw and deciding they’d rather attempt a full-court reverse windmill alley-oop. It should be celebrated. Just like we should celebrate the love we’ve had. Because for those fleeting moments that we had it we felt like we knew what mattered. So we mattered. Thank you Pozuelo and Piatti.

Will you sign this picture?

Long live every friend who’s ever given another friend a bad idea and made the friendship better for it.

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