Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup Notes

Since I’m a soccer referee, several people have asked me over the last few days to explain the call by referee Koman Coulibaly during the US-Slovenia game which nullified Maurice Edu’s probable game-winning goal. I’ve got nothing. He definitely blew the whistle before the ball went into the net, but if anything, the call should have resulted in an American penalty kick.

On the topic of the US-Slovenia game, Landon Donovan’s goal (and this picture) was just awesome.

The best quote about the goal came from Tom Dart of the London Times. "The match was transformed after 48 minutes when Donovan capitalised on a defensive slip to race clear on the right. He leathered his shot into the roof of the net so forcefully that [goalie] Samir Handanovic appeared to decide not to try to save it for fear that the ball might amputate one of his hands."

Donovan’s goal reminded me a lot of Evgeni Malkin’s goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2008 NHL playoffs. I think Malkin and Donovan just thought, I'm going to hit this as hard as I can and dare you to stop it. Take that!

I watched the US-Slovenia match at one of the best known soccer bars in the DC area. Despite this fact, someone yelled "c'mon ref throw the flag" after a Slovenian player fouled Jozy Altidore. He was not joking.

Play-by-play guy Martin Tyler, who called the Brazil-Ivory Coast and US-England matches, is really good.

However, where is JP Dellacamera, America’s best soccer play-by-play announcer?

I love the exchanging of jerseys after World Cup games. If I’m playing against England, I’m immediately running over to Wayne Rooney at the conclusion of the match to get his jersey. Now the question I have is what the players do with the jerseys after the game. Do they wash and frame them or do they put them on Ebay?

Look at the possible jerseys in Group G. If I’m a North Korean player, I’m getting an Ivory Coast Didier Drogba jersey; a Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal jersey and a jersey of just about any Brazilian player (let’s say Kaka, mostly since it's fun to say Kaka). Of course, Kim Jong-Il will probably just take those jerseys after the team returns home.

Before or after nearly every commercial break as part of the ESPN/ABC coverage, there is a 5-second song played over the World Cup logo. Does anyone know the lyrics? For all I know, they are singing, buy Coca-Cola now. At this point, I think I’d even settle for the language of the lyrics.

The New Oxford American Dictionary announces the word of the year annually. The 2009 word of the year was unfriend. The 2010 word of the year has to be vuvuzela, right?

Speaking of vuvuzelas, they have been banned from Wimbledon.

You may or may not know that the French team is a disaster. Striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home the team director resigned and the team refused to practice on Sunday. If anyone from Ireland or Irish soccer fans read this, are you happy to see the French mess or are you upset that Ireland arguably should be in South Africa instead of France (or both)?

Finally, here's the scenarios by which the U.S. can advance to the knockout stages (courtesy of Deadspin).

Slovenia is in the driver's seat in group C, with 4 points. The US and England each have 2, and Algeria 1. This puts the USA in control of their own destiny, because

If the US wins, they're through to the round of 16. A win would give us 5 points in the group. With England and Slovenia playing each other, there's no way both could finish with more points.

If the US loses, they're out. Ceding three points to Algeria lets them leapfrog us, and we're unable to catch Slovenia, no matter what they do in their final game.

The US could also draw their final game (they've shown themselves quite proficient at that). That's where things get complicated.

If the US draws, and England beats Slovenia, they're out. England would finish with 5, Slovenia with 4, and the USMNT with 3.

If the US draws, and Slovenia beats England, they're through to the round of 16. Slovenia would win the group with 7, the US with 3, and England and Algeria with 2 apiece.

If the US draws, and Slovenia and England draw, it comes down to tiebreakers. Slovenia would win the group with 5, and England and America would be tied with 3. Here are the variables:

•The first tiebreaker is goal differential. The US and England would have tied all three matches, so we move on.
•The second tiebreaker is goals scored. After two games, the US has scored 3, while England has scored 1. That looks good for the US, as long as the England/Slovenia match isn't high-scoring. It's possible for England and Slovenia to finish 3-3, and the US/Algeria to finish 0-0. In that case England would move on. If England/Slovenia finished, say, 2-2 and the US plays a scoreless draw, we move on to the next tiebreaker.
•The third tiebreaker is points obtained in head-to-head matches. The US and England tied, so we move on.
•The fourth tiebreaker is goal differential in head-to-head matches. Again, a tie.
•The fifth tiebreaker is goals scored head-to-head. That's one apiece, so we move on.

If the US and England are still tied after all the tiebreakers, FIFA draws lots to determine who moves on. Yes, at the most important sporting event in the world, a coin will be flipped to decide the winner.

1 comment:

JR said...

Had no idea that if all is tied between the US and England after the third match... lots are drawn!! That's madness!