What is a Clean Sheet in Soccer?

What is a Clean Sheet in Soccer?

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What is a clean sheet in soccer? It’s when a team holds the opposing team to zero goals in a soccer match. It is also referred to as a “shutout” in the U.S.

If you’re a goalkeeper or defender, there’s a good chance you’ve heard this term “clean sheet” when walking off the pitch.

If you’re ending a game and the other team scored zero goals then congratulate yourselves because you earned a clean sheet!

Can there be two clean sheets in a single game? You betcha! If the soccer match ends in a 0-0 draw then both teams walk away with a clean sheet. This is a great reflection on the defense but (maybe) not so exciting for Strikers.

How Unique is a Clean Sheet in Soccer?

Petr Cech

Many times, soccer fans and parents will witness a zero score game.

Some teams will focus their attention on defense and a clean sheet can be a great indicator that their training is effective.

If you’re constantly aiming to concede zero goals then you give your team a higher chance of winning a match.

For a few teams in the Premier League and MLS, they have a 45% chance of some of their matches ending with their opponents scoring zero goals. Most teams have below a 30% shot at a clean sheet.

In the Premier League, Petr Cech of Chelsea holds the record for 202 clean sheets.

In the MLS, Nick Rimondo of Real Salt Lake City holds the most ‘shutouts’ with 167.

Why is it Called a Clean Sheet?

Like many soccer terms, a clean sheet has a bit of an unclear history.

The origin comes from sports reporting back in the heyday. Before computers and other technologies existed, sports reporters would record the score and other stats with a pencil and a piece of paper. If the team’s sheet of paper was blank it was then considered a “clean sheet”.

Makes complete sense to us!

Is it Only the Goalie Who is Responsible for Clean Sheets?

Absolutely not! Soccer is the ultimate team sport and everyone on the team should feel responsible whether it is a five or a zero goal game.

With this said, it’s the defenders and the goalie who are most responsible and can have a significant impact on a clean sheet. Defenders consist of center-backs and full-backs. These players are the last line of the defense.

Before the opposing team can take a shot on goal, the defending team can help themselves by winning 50/50 balls, marking their man/woman, starting the counter-attack and making tough tackles.

A goalkeeper has a direct effect on a soccer ball crossing the goal line. It important for the goalkeeper to direct their defense, anticipate where the ball is going and make quick decisions.


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      Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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