Soccer players rarely attempt to score directly from the kickoff.
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Soccer kickoffs normally pretty routine affairs, with one player tapping the ball ahead to a teammate. Some teams run plays off of the kickoff, occasionally trying to keep the opponent guessing about which player will make the initial touch. Then there is the rare team that tries to score all the way from the center circle. Under soccer's international rules -- which also govern play in the United States -- you can score directly off of a kickoff.
Direct Free Kick
The kickoff is a type of direct free kick. As the term indicates, a direct free kick may be kicked into the net and count as a goal -- as opposed to an indirect free kick which must touch a second player before a goal can be scored. Additionally, Law 8 of the FIFA Laws of the Game specifically states that "a goal may be scored directly from the kick-off."
Scoring Directly Off the Kickoff
Because the center mark from which teams kick off is at least 50 yards from the net, scoring directly off of a kickoff is unlikely, but happens occasionally. While plenty of players can kick the ball far enough and accurately enough to hit the net from midfield, the goalkeeper will have several seconds to position himself to stop the shot. At higher levels of play, therefore, scoring directly off the kickoff is practically impossible because the keepers are too talented. At lower levels, kickoff goals may occur when the shot passes just under the crossbar, while the goalie mis-times his jump, or is caught off guard.
Notable Kickoff Goals
Vuk Bakic of Serbia's GSP Polet may have scored the fastest goal in soccer history, taking two seconds to boot the kickoff over the Dorcol goalkeeper's head and into the net in a 2012 youth game. In United States college play, Yael Averbuch scored directly off of the kickoff for North Carolina against Yale in 2006, while Will Van Noppen scored on a kick-off for Clark University against Wheaton College in a Division III game in 2010. Andrew Chin of Tucker High School in Illinois scored two kickoff goals in a 2010 game. In a 2009 contest between the Sao Bento Sorocaba and Sao Jose teams in Brazil, Renato Santiago scored directly off of a kickoff because the opposing goalkeeper wasn't ready when play began.
A player hoping to score directly from the kickoff will begin several yards behind the ball, get a running start, then boot the ball at the net. Due to the difficulty of scoring on a 50-yard kick, however, a team looking for a fast strike has a better chance if it sets up a play off of the kickoff. For example, a quick attack may begin with a wing player racing down the field as soon as the ball is kicked off from one teammate to another. The player receiving the kickoff then passes to the wing who's on the move. A team may also place several players in the center circle so the opponent doesn't know which player will kick off.