Friday, June 18, 2010
World Cup 2010 Game 22: Slovenia 2, United States 2
It wouldn't be a World Cup without some referee controversy, would it?
It was a bad call. A bad, bad call. Everyone agrees. Nobody on television, none of the commentators, most English observers, justified the phantom call that disallowed America's third goal and cost them two valuable points in pool play. It wasn't just that one call, though. The referee seemed to lose control of the match at times almost appearing Palinesque (or, more accurately Quaylesque) in his "deer in the headlights" approach to turning the other way. Slovenia went down with every challenge, delaying the game with phantom injuries that disappeared as soon as the player was off the pitch and ready to reenter. The United States seemed to get fouled willy-nilly without a call.
All that being said, they really shouldn't have been in that position to begin with, no? Once again the United States gave up an early goal. Considering how good Tim Howard is in goal, the number of shots let in should tell you something about how loose the United States's marking is on defense. Yes the first goal was a great strike, but given that much time and space a lot of players can make that play.
Landon Donovan made a sweet, sweet goal. If you are a superstar you are supposed to beat the goalie one on one and he did. Michael Bradley continues to come up with big goals. I wonder when American fans will let up on Bradley? It's almost because he doesn't have the flashy runs with the ball that they think he's terrible, but he ran down balls again and again and seems like a very heady player to me...knowing when to play up and when to stay back. How often, when opponents score, do you hear the announcers say "Oh, bad give away by Bradley?" or that Bradley was supposed to be marking his man?
Really, I suppose the way to look at this is that the U.S. needs to look at this, as poor as the officials decision was, is that they are pretty much where they expected they would be...needing a win against Algeria for a good chance to advance. Most probably thought that the United States would lose to England and beat Slovenia, thus going into the last game. That would have left them needing a result against Algeria to keep things in their own hand. There are a few remote scenarios where the United States could win against Algeria and still fail to advance. They would involve goal differentials and goals scored. Since Slovenia's win over Algeria was 1-0, they would have to score two goals in a tie with England to move ahead on goals scored, assuming the United States were only to win 1-0 against Algeria. The United States would still likely go through with a win.