Saturday, June 17, 2006

USA Jobbed in Draw with Italy

Team USA tied Italy 1-1 in the World Cup earlier this afternoon. Italy is one of the great soccer nations and a draw to get 1 point is objectively a great result for the US Squad. However, the US actually seriously outplayed Italy in the first half and clearly deserved the win.

Unfortunately, at the end of the first half the referee took over the game, robbed the US on 3 key decisions and quickly created one of the worst officiated soccer matches I've ever seen. First Pablo Mastroeni was sent off in the 45th minute and then Eddie Pope was sent off in the 47th minute reducing the USA to just nine men. Both of the red cards were absolutely ridiculous. Fouls maybe but certainly not card and Pope even got the ball. Fortunately, Italy's Daniele De Ross had previously been sent off for a nasty elbow to Brian McBride face but whereas the US should have been up a man they found themselves playing with 9 vs. Italy's 10.

Despite the disadvantage US continued to play well and 65th minute DeMarcus Beasely found the back of the net and the US appeared to have taken the lead. However, Brian McBride, who was not involved in the play, was flagged for offsides. McBride clearly was offsides and from such a position is not allowed to participate in the play but the referee's assertion that he obstructed the view of the goal keeper was weak at best and I've seen far far more obstruction from players in offsides positions that did not lead to offsides calls. It should have been a goal. Later in the match Team USA clearly tired and Italy had several scoring opportunities but it still remains one of the best match performances I've ever seen the US put in.

Moving forward, a win over Ghana and an Italian victory over the Czechs will put the US team through to the next round. Technically, a victory over Ghana by more than 4 goals could put the team through on goal difference regardless of the Italy - Czech result but I wouldn't pin much hope on that scenario.


At June 20, 2006 7:24 AM, Anonymous Edward Lush said...

Regardless of how the US does against Ghana, the US earned some major respect with their draw against Italy. After their lackluster display against Czech, I'm sure more than a few in Europe were laughing at the US, including the Italians, whose coach after the game admitted that Italy had underestimated the US. The US took the game to Italy and before the ref ruined the match the US definately looked like the team that was a perennial soccer powerhouse, not Italy. The US should be proud of their performance, and hopefully will be able to carry the momentum into the Ghana game. Ghana are no pushover, so a victory would be a great result. Even if the US don't do enough to get through to the next round, just showing that they can play with the big boys is an achievement. It's a credit to the US team, that in past World Cups any group with the US would never have been called the group of death, but in this World Cup, Group E is justifiably the group of death!


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