Why is the “goal box” markings required, when all the rules that I’m aware of apply only to the “penalty area”? What special rules apply only to the “goal box”?
USSF answer (October 16, 2009):
There is no “goal box,” but there is a goal area within the penalty area. The goal area has changed shape, size, and role several times during its history. Nowadays its primary roles are to provide a place for the goal kick to be taken and to act as a buffer zone for dropped balls and for opposing indirect free kicks within six yards of the goal.
If play is stopped inside the goal area for some reason other than a foul or misconduct, the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped (Law 8).
A free kick awarded to the defending team within the goal area may be taken from any point inside that area (Law 13)
An indirect free kick awarded to the attacking team inside the goal area must be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred (Law 13).
A goal kick is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team.