Saturday, June 17, 2006

The worst ref in the world 

It's not a clever title or anything, but that says it all. The piece of Uruguayan shit that FIFA dug up to officiate the USA v Italy match is the worst ref in the world. Apparently, he wasn't allowed to referee in the 2002 World Cup because of "irregularies." I don't understand why that was lifted. Surely, he'll never call another game on this level. Surely. He, singlehandedly, ruined what was a perfectly good match and, potentially, derailed the United States' chances of advancement to the 2nd round. He should, in short, be strung up by his testicles while he watches his family get gang-raped and murdered below him. After witnessing that, he gets a bazooka in the face.

The red card on De Rossi - Completely warranted. No question he was just looking to destroy McBride's face.

The red card on Mastroeni - What an awful, awful, awful call. That tackle merited a yellow card, tops. To no other referee is that challenge deserving of a straight ejection.

Both yellow cards on Eddie Pope - They were simply fouls. I may give the first one, but certainly not the second and definitely not immediately out of halftime. Use some discression, you asshole! And after all this trigger happy card pulling, he shuts up for the last 20 minutes and doesn't call ANYTHING!

Beasley's disallowed goal - Let me tell you, we were all jumping around and screaming like crazy when it looked like the US went up 2-1 while only playing with nine men. It was a miracle. Until it wasn't. The announcers assured the viewers on TV that this call was legit and that McBride -- in a PASSIVE (read: not involved in the play) offside position -- was screening the goalie, thus making it obstruction. This is nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. And there's one incident that springs immediately to mind that goes hand-in-hand with this disallowed goal: tuck rule. NFL playoffs, 2001, Tom Brady of the Patriots FUMBLES the ball. The Raiders recover. Game over. Ref dusts off the rulebook and says, no, Brady "tucked" the ball and thus was in a throwing motion. Fumble erased, incomplete pass ruled, Patriots go on to win. My point is that this is a rule that is completely counter-intuitive to the spirit of competition. So the United States, yes, got tuck-ruled. That is to say, we got hosed. We got tuck-ruled, and the world knows it.

Italy - Are very lucky to come away with a tie. Aside from the last five minutes of the match, when the nine Americans left on the field were absolutely gassed from running up and down a 90-yard field all game, the US carried the play. They were more aggressive, had more opportunities, and were better on the ball than the Italians. That Beasley goal should've counted. USA should've won 2-1.

Coach Arena - Why no third substitution? WHY?!?! You've got Eddie Johnson -- the only American worth a damn against the Czechs -- sitting on the sideline, waiting to score some goals, and you don't put him in?? You're telling me that subbing Johnson in for McBride up front wouldn't have perhaps created an opportunity in one of our several (shorthanded) rushes upfield? Give me a break.

DaMarcus Beasley - Man... Disallowed goal aside, he was a major disappointment. A starter last game, he was brought off the bench against the Italians to provide some sort of spark, an attack, but he was very passive for much of his time in the contest. On a few occassions, when he was literally walking the ball upfield, it was because his exhausted teammates couldn't muster up the strength to push forward after they'd all sprinted from the Italian penalty area 80 yards towards their own. But mostly, Beasley was soft. Disappointing from one of our best players.

The good news - Team USA can still qualify for the second round if they beat Ghana.

The bad news - In addition to taking care of business, they'll need help from Italy against the Czechs. Thus, their destiny is not in their own hands. All Italy need are a tie, but winning the group would enhance their chances of not having to face Brazil immediately in round two. So let's hope Italy use that as motivation. The Czechs looked toothless in attack against Ghana (because their best forwards are injured) so there is every reason Italy should win.

I feel strange. This is the one and only time in my life I have ever cheered against the Italians and I'm really dejected that the US had to settle for a tie. However, if both USA and Italy win on Thursday, I get the best of both worlds and both teams will move on to round two. Here's how it breaks down for the remaining matches in this group on Thursday and what each team needs in order to move on to round 2:

Team W L T pts Goal Difference
Italy 1 0 1 4 +2
Czech 1 1 0 3 +1
Ghana 1 1 0 3 Even
USA 0 1 1 1 -3

Italy v Czech
USA v Ghana

Italy - Advance to 2nd round with a win or a draw.
Czech - Advance with a win.
Ghana - Advance with a win or advance with a draw and Czech defeat.
USA - Advance with win and a Czech defeat.
* If both games end in a draw, Czech advances past Ghana on the goal differential tie-break. How huge is that blown third goal for Ghana, now?!?

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