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We Wuz Robbed !!!

I’m not into blaming referees, umpires and officials for teams losing games.  Not at all.  For example, in the 1985 World Series, the Cardinals did not lose to the Royals because of umpire Don Denkinger’s missed call at first base.  No way.  The Royals played better, were a slightly better team, and blew the Cardinals away in Game Seven to take the 1-70 World Series.  The Cardinals had plenty of opportunities to win the Series, but couldn’t.  Denkinger made a mistake, but the Cardinals’ failure to win the series was not his fault.

But today, June 18, 2010 I have must say, unequivocally, that World Cup referee Koman Coulibaly alone was responsible for altering the course of a game, and perhaps the destiny of a team.  The US Men’s National team, having gone done 2-0 at halftime to a spirited Slovenian squad, came back in grand fashion on wonderfully skilled goals by Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley.  In the 85th minute, second half sub Maurice Edu, already famous for his Old Firm goal for Rangers earlier this season, netted for the US to take a 3-2 game and probably the victory.  Coulibaly, curiously though, disallowed the goal for reasons no one can adequately explain.  And the US’ braveheart comeback ended in a draw instead of a historical triumph.  One point was shared by each team, instead of the US getting all three.  The referee’s decision didn’t allow much time for the US to complete their improbable comeback.  When will FIFA wake up and allow review of controversial calls?  I thought the World Cup was important.  Surely, there is a reasonable method to overrule mistakes made by officials.  The disallowance of Edu’s goal was a travesty of justice and fair play.

The Green Dragons of Slovenia took an early lead in the contest,  as midfielder Valter Birsa found an opening in the US defense and launched a shot that sailed by American keeper Tim Howard, who was screened on the shot by American defender Oguchi Onyewu.  Those of us who feared a letdown by the US after their emotional draw with England last Saturday found those fears come true, as Slovenia added a second goal on a counterattack as forward Zlatan Ljubijankic three minutes before intermission.  Although the US team did not look outclassed, they were down 2-0, and everyone wondered what the US could do in the second half.

US Coach Bob Bradley made changes at halftime, and they worked.  He brought on substitutes Maurice Edu and Benny Feilhaber for Jose Torres and Robbie Findley as the second half started.  The US needed a goal quickly, and Landon Donovan responded, taking advantage of a defender’s slip to bore down on goal and shoot powerfully over keeper Samir Handanovic to get the US on the board.  Brilliant.  Coach Bradley substituted forward Herculez Gomez, a potent poacher, in for defender Oguchi Onyewu in the 80th minute, a courageous move that provided dividends two minutes later when Gomez took a defender with him inside the box, leaving midfielder Michael Bradley to level the score with a beautifully handled ball from a Jozy Altidore header. 

Three minutes later, Edu apparently scored as the Ellis Park crowd went wild.  Unfortunately, Mr. Coulibaly saw things differently, and the US got only one point instead of the three they deserved.  Thanks to England’s non-performance against the defensively poised Algerian squad late in the afternoon, the US finds its fate in its own hands, as a victory over Algeria next Wednesday at 9:00 am CDT will put the US through to the next round.  England face Slovenia at the same time.  All four teams in Group C still have a chance to move onwards in the tournament.  Wednesday will be an exciting day. The US cannot keep conceding early goals in these crucial games, but that’s the subject for another day.  A salute to the players and coach for an exciting effort today.


9 Responses

  1. you guys sure don’t know how to endear yourselves to St. Louis fans. One of you is a Blackhawks supporter and now the other one is defending the Royals winning the World Series over the Cardinals. Damn, remind me again why you guys support AC STL.

  2. I know this is a soccer blog but I have to address the 85 Series because you are so wrong! There is no way you can say that the Royals had a better team. I suggest you go back and look at the Cardinal Players vs the Royals players, their stats for that year and how the teams got to where they were. The Cardinals were up 3 games to 2 until that blown game led to their demise. If it wasn’t for Saberhagen they wouldn’t have even stood up to the Cards (Saberhagen pitched near perfect gems the 2 games he started). The Royals were a slightly above average team (and only because they had Brett, Saberhagen and Quisenberry) and the Cards were a solid team with 2x 20game winners”(and Cox had 18), a rookie of the year, a NL MVP, a gold glove ss & cf and a great bullpen. Sorry, but no way were the Royals deserving, not when they are about to lose the World Series. That call did matter.

  3. Ok, I’ll address these issues one at a time. Thank you for the comments.
    Yes, Dave is a Blackhawks fan. He grew up in Chicago, played hockey as a kid, and loves the Blackhawks. They just won the Stanley Cup for the first time in almost 50 years, he deserves to crow about it, To me it would be much more distasteful to pretend to be a Blues fan, when one actually roots for their biggest rivals.
    BigGuy makes some great points about the 1985 Cardinals, a team I loved. But the 1985 Royals were no slouches either…they won 91 games, beat a good Blue Jays team in the playoffs before downing the Cardinals. I am not the one who originated the idea that the Royals were a slightly better team than the Cardinals that year….that came from the great baseball writer Bill James in his Baseball Abstract. Since its 25 years ago, its hard to remember every reason why he thought the Royals had an edge, except for the obvious one — power. The Royals outhomered the Cardinals 154 to 87. At least at that time, it was statistically proven that teams that had more power had the edge in winning playoff and World series. The Royals outdoubled the Cardinals too….and were close in OBP and triples. I loved that Cardinals team with Jack Clark, Ozzie, Whitey, Terry Pendleton, Willie, Vince, John Tudor…but the Royals had not only HOF George Brett but Bye Bye Balboni hit 36 HRS, Frank White was a very good defensive second baseman with power, Lonnie Smith and Willie Wilson gave them some speed, and Dick Howser was a damn good manager too., Saberhagen, Liebrandt, Black, Gubicza and Danny Jackson were a fine rotation, and like you said, Quiz was lights out and NEVER walked batters. It was very difficult for me to accept that the Cardinals lost that World Series, and Denkinger’s mistake obviously hurt them. But bottom line, unlike the USMNT today, the Cardinals had another game to get a result….the USMNT had 5 minutes after getting robbed by the referee. The fact that the Cardinals embarassed themselves in Game 7 so badly doesn’t help your argument.

    • I’m not saying you or Dave are wrong for your opinions. I agree that Dave deserves to be proud of his Blackhawks and you have your reasons for believing that the Royals were the better team. I’m just saying that this is supposed to be a St. Louis blog and you won’t win many friends touting the Blackhawks or the Royals. But you do what you want, its your blog.

  4. All this blog is trying to be is a wannabe. It thinks that after the AC St. Louis demise next year, it will still be around.

    Not likely, folks.

  5. You might be right, Chickenhead, but I think St. Louisans are smart enough to handle the truth. And the truth was in 1985, the Cardinals had a magnificent team, but the Royals had a damn good team, too, that was overlooked by most baseball fans. They matched up well with the Cardinals statistically, except for home runs (which they dominated) and stolen bases (which the Cardinals dominated). Bill James pointed this out 25 years ago. And home run tend to be more of a factor in a team’s post-season success than stolen bases, at least back then.

  6. Sorry Leroy, but I have no doubt that professional outdoor men’s soccer is in St. Louis’ future. The seed has already sprouted. But even if I’m wrong, the Fanatic is here to stay. But thanks for continuing to be a reader.

  7. you forget that part of the reason Cards had low homers was because of the size of Busch, it was known as a pitchers park. I don’t give a crap what some writer wrote 25 years ago, he’s just one guy. Also, you pointed out that the Royals won 91 games, well the Cards won 101.
    The point remains, the Cardinals were winning the series 3 games to 2 and were about to win the entire thing until that play happened. In other words, that out happens, the Cardinals win the series. You really think the great Bill James would have said the Royals were better after that? Even if he did, it wouldn’t have mattered because the Cardinals would have been World Series Champions. Period.

  8. Regarding the call on the phantom foul or infraction, it was a missed call no doubt. I must say though that Dempsey was a lucky boy on his early elbow to the face. He might of deserved a card for it and the card could easily have been a red. Let’s just say the ref had an all round bad day. Here’s hoping to less referee controvery going forward.

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