Saturday, June 17, 2006

Jooooooooooooooooooke!

... would probably be the best way to describe the USA-Italy World Cup match today, which I managed to catch this afternoon in my well-cooled apartment rather than go anywhere near the 88-degree weather outside. The United States actually looked much sharper today than they did in the absolutely flat performance against the Czech Republic, dominating the midfield and attacking the Italian goal far more aggressively. Although a win would have been nice, the 1-1 final is something of a victory for the U.S., considering they've never even won a World Cup match on European soil, and Italians are simply an international powerhouse.

Unfortunately, the game itself was essentially ruined thanks to some horrific reffing. Three red cards in one game? Are you kidding me? In the refs' defense, when Eddie Johnson said preparing for this game was like going to war, he may not have been using such an inappropriate misnomer after all, as the two teams combined for 35 fouls in what was an ugly dogfight from the start. However, like well-behaved children shopping with their moms in a department store, referees should be seen and not heard, and should never have the sort of impact they had on this game. By the time the final whistle, both teams were exhausted, playing 10 on 9 for almost an entire half, and neither had a chance to break open the tie.

Sure, it's one thing to call De Rossi's red card when he flagrantly smacked McBride upside the head with an elbow, but the others were simply late slide tackles. Let's face it, soccer is a violent game, played physically at its highest levels of competition. The golden rule of reffing or umpiring a game in any sport is to try to let the players play the game as much as possible, and not let calls affect the final outcome, especially one of this magnitude. Why couldn't these guys figure that out?

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