World Cup Redux Group C Matchday 2: Dempsey's Elbow, Bradley's Gamble, Freekick Controversey, England Snoozefest

19 June 2010

USA's Jozy Altidore (L) and Michael Bradley (R) talk to referee Koman Coulibaly after the FIFA World Cup 2010 group C preliminary round match between Slovenia and USA (Credit Image: © epa/
Clint Dempsey’s Foul 10 Seconds In Was Not a Red Card Offense
This is the first major call that everyone seems livid at in the world on Saturday. Yes, Clint Dempsey knows better; but his collision with Zlatan Ljubijankic was never a red card. Yes, Dempsey led with his elbow, but there was never any violent intent. Both Dempsey and Ljubijankic were going after the same ball, and in the act of keeping his balance, Ljubijankic head had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting Dempsey’s elbow.
The other argument I’ve seen is if that incident had occurred other than in the opening minute of the game, he would have been sent off. I think that’s a non starter. A yellow card, at worst, should have been shown. Without the reckless intent most elbows come with, the card should stay in the pocket. The problem is, most elbows do come with the violent conduct required to see a sending off. This was one of the rare instances a red card shouldn’t have been shown, and the referee should be commended for not flashing what would have been an easy red card to show considering what most people think is just a norm.
Besides, Ljubijankic made the US pay in the best way he possibly could have…scoring in the forty-second minute.

Bob Bradley’s Halftime Gamble Paid Off
Bob Bradley needed changes at halftime in order to find goals. The two substitutions made, while one was questionable, were the right choices to be made.
I liked the substitution of Benny Feilhaber for Robbie Findley. It allowed Clint Dempsey to move up front into the attack. It also gave the US more width in the midfield, something that was lacking in the first half. Findley only had made 2 good runs in the first half, and ended up with a ridiculous yellow card. Since he was already going to miss the Algeria game, I felt it was best to get him off in case something happened and he did get sent off.
As for the substitution of Jose Francisco Torres, I have mixed feelings. I can understand Bob Bradley’s concern for needing a second holding midfielder that can get into the attack, but I also think that with the way the shape ended up (4-3-3), that I think, it would have been a wise idea to keep him on. In my mind, Jose Torres is criticized for only making one mistake, something that isn’t done with most of the team. However, in this instance, I think Bob Bradley wanted someone on the pitch he knew and trusted. While it is still a substitution I question, it’s also one I can understand.
If anyone should have been subbed off at halftime, it was Oguchi Onyewu. Considering he was the man responsible for both of Slovenia’s goals, and the fact he was severely off the pace in the first half, it was a move that I think should have been a no-brainer. At least Bob Bradley felt the need to bring Gomez on for the statue in the eightieth minute. However, I would have brought Gomez on about five to ten minutes sooner than he did.

The Controversial Free Kick No One Will Shut Up About
Having now seen the entire sequence from set up to the free kick to the whistle blowing disallowing the goal, there is one thing clear in my mind; that free kick should have never been awarded on Jozy Altidore. Yes, contact was made, but Jozy Altidore went to ground way too easily. The referee should have let the ball roll out as it was already doing, and just awarded a goal kick. Since the free kick was awarded, the goal should have stood. Based on every replay shown, the referee should have either let the goal stand, or blown for one of four different fouls in the box against Slovenia.
Yes, every fan has every right to be aggrieved of the decision made. However, once the decision was made, the players should have let the media crucify the decision, instead of the complaining they did. FIFA has been rumored to be moving up his review based on the call; let that be your guide and move on. The day after complaining is only making you look bad, and could easily be debated as if you are putting the game into disrepute.

England/Algeria: The Game With One Chance
After watching the England/Algeria game, I am so glad I have a thing called my fast forward button. For England, it was 90 minutes of not giving a damn. For Algeria, it was 90 minutes where if they had a legitimate out and out striker on the park, they could have easily had three points. Considering they didn’t, I think they will be more than happy with the point they gained and hope for the best against the United States.
In fact, if one wanted to argue, there was only one chance in the entire ninety minutes that looked like it could have been a goal, Frank Lampard’s effort in the thirty-second minute. Other than that, it was Algeria doing exactly what they wanted. They forced England into shambolic giveaways, shots from distance, but above all, having to do way more defending than even they would have liked.
What’s more surprising is that England still have a chance, just like the United States. All they have to do is win on Wednesday. However, based on the form I have seen with my own two eyes after the first two group games, I think this team is already thinking about a mini-vacation before starting the Premier League season.


Football Souvenirs June 20, 2010 at 2:22 AM  

England, possibly the worst team at the World Cup so far.

Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 1:01 PM  

A former FIFA referee disagrees with your take on Dempsey's elbow.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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