The most dubious scoreline in soccer, at least when it comes to pleasing traditional American sports fans, is the 0-0 draw.

No goals must mean no action, right? It must be a boring game, yes?

It’s no wonder Americans haven’t fully adopted a sport where it’s possible for nobody to score, and nobody to win.

These are familiar talking points from the soccer-dismissive sports fan and pundit. Every four years when the entire planet fixates on the World Cup, they are often amplified. And I myself could have been caught echoing those sentiments many moons ago, before I fell in love with the sport of soccer (which would quickly become my favorite, and go on to change my life – but that’s another story).

So I – a full-blooded, born-and-raised American sports fan – am here to tell you how and why you can absolutely still love a 0-0 draw in soccer.

It’s all here! Fast kickin’! Low scorin’! And ties? You bet!

A culture accustomed to scoring

We Americans tend to love high scoring action in our sports. A 32-35 NFL game or a 52-14 college football blowout. The Warriors edging out the Lakers 141-139. That kind of thing.

Soccer, by its nature, is a different animal. Soccer goals are only worth one point. American football offers high scores, but the number of actual *scoring plays* in a game is not so different. The most common final score in NFL history is 20-17. If you divide those scores by the number of points a touchdown is worth (let’s assume they make the extra point), it works out to 2.8-2.4. Not so different from soccer, is it?

Funnily enough, the NFL is the only American pro sport where a 0-0 tie is a possible result (since the NHL got rid of ties in the mid-2000s). But that hasn’t actually happened since 1943. Baseball might seem to be a slightly higher-scoring game, but in 2022 the average runs scored per game ranged from about 3.5, for the worst teams, to just over 5 for the best.

Soccer is a sport that pretty much demands you pay attention to it the entire time. A game is 90 minutes long.

It can easily be a blink-and-you-miss-it proposition.

There are no commercial interruptions, no breaks between each pitch, nothing like that. There really aren’t many opportunities to ignore and tune out what you might think is a “boring” game. So much of the joy in “the beautiful game” comes from, and is built-up, in between the goals.

Many things to love

While a single basket in an NBA game is routine, and a touchdown or home run is expected, a goal in soccer is not a given. The near-misses, corners and free kicks, shots hitting the woodwork – they all contribute to the experience. A brilliant play featuring seven passes that link-up to create a scoring chance – but doesn’t deliver one – can be more satisfying than a run of the mill touchdown in the NFL.

The escalating tension, atmosphere, anxiety, nervousness – these are the things that can make a low-scoring soccer game an experience unlike any other. Envision the drama of a last minute game winning field goal, or a buzzer beating 3-pointer. Now extend that nail-biting, butterflies-in-your-gut feeling over an entire game. That’s what a 0-0 soccer game can be like.

That feeling is why even a crummy goal, one that pinballs around the box before going in off the goalkeeper’s backside, can be just as thrilling as a perfectly hit golazo from 35 yards out. Just one moment of brilliance – or luck – can result in a release of excitement and passion that is unrivaled in the sports world.


But sometimes, that release never comes for either side. Sometimes, nobody really deserves to win a match. By the same token, oftentimes nobody really deserves to lose. So a draw and sharing of the points is usually a fair result. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that that particular game wasn’t exciting.

A 0-0 draw, in let’s say a World Cup group stage match where you need just one point in the standings to advance (such as World Cup 2022’s Croatia-Belgium game), can be just as satisfying as a 5-0 victory. Even in a mundane early season league match, not conceding a goal and escaping with a draw can mean the difference between glory and failure later on in the season when the table is added up.

A scoreless draw can make it easier to appreciate the nuances of the game. Terrific saves and defensive plays, displays of dribbling and passing skill, mere inches deciding the fate of a match. It can amplify bad (or good) officiating.

A 0-0 result may seem like the worst of the game on the surface. But it can very easily deliver the best soccer has to offer. Are there 0-0 snooze-fests occasionally? Of course. But more often than not, these matches are full of intrigue and drama. Rather than being a negative aspect of the sport, the low scoring or scoreless game is one of the things that give soccer it’s unique flavor.