Gold Cup Final 2009: A series of unfortunate events

Giovanni dos Santos

Giovani dos Santos

Watching the Gold Cup Final on Univisión is a somewhat unsettling experience. Aside from the alarming lack of HD, it’s a bit like being a non-Cubs or non-White Sox fan and watching a game on WGN: the announcers are so patently biased that it renders their analysis pointless. The Univisión announcers were clearly rooting for Mexico from the beginning, apparently unaware that a good number of Americans (and Canadians) can speak Spanish. But that is, in reality, just the latest in a long line of weirdness by Univisión’s announcers.

The real problems with the game were two-fold. First, the referees were terrible. They missed calls left and right, most egregiously when a penalty was called on Heaps (it was Giovani dos Santos who was committing the penalty) and when not one but two Mexican attackers were clearly offside on Mexico’s second goal (see edit below). Get those calls right and it’s 1-0 for Mexico in the 70th minute, not 3-0. Not only that, but Jay Heaps’ second yellow was complete uncalled for. That only continues a recurring theme: CONCACAF officials, in general, and Gold Cup officials in particular, are terrible.

Second, the US played a monumentally bad second half. I don’t know what happened but everything went wrong. The back four, in particular, were terrible. They were burned time and again by Mexican attackers, esp. Giovani dos Santos (who looked like a real attacking player for the first time in two years), and their offside trap was painfully ineffective. I sincerely doubt that any of them will be suiting up for the US anytime soon.

That brings me to the midfielders. Stuart Holden played the entire match too narrow. He has speed and skill and should have been wider to create space for Kyle Beckerman and, more importantly, Brian Ching. Ching and every other forward was also ineffective. I doubt Ching’s World Cup hopes were helped by this match.

In the end, even a heavy 5-0 loss isn’t that big a deal considering that the US fielded a B-team and nobody really cares about the Gold Cup. I was, however, disappointed that so few US fans were at Giants Stadium. Mexican fans badly outnumbered them. For shame! Can any hard and fast conclusions be formed from this match or this tournament? I’m reasonably certain that none of the US defenders will play for the national team again anytime soon. I’m also reasonably certain that Brian Ching’s World Cup dream crashed and burned. More players hurt their causes here than helped though some will surely recover. I only hope that the A-team, which will be called up for the 12 August qualifier in Mexico, knows they have to avenge this loss.

EDIT: 29 July 2009, 1:15am

Thanks to reader Greco, my understanding of the offside rule has been enhanced. As is clear by the illustration, the Mexican attacker in the offside position did not play the ball until he had re-established his position onside. That makes his touch legal and thus the goal stands. I stand corrected and in debt to Greco for his pointing this out.

offside rule

And, for those are masochists (or for Mexico fans to revel one last time), the video highlights:

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6 Comments

Filed under CONCACAF

6 responses to “Gold Cup Final 2009: A series of unfortunate events

  1. Pingback: Saturday Night Links: Monday edition « Spot Kicks

  2. Greco

    Oh wow… this is good. Seriously? Offsides? Talk about bias! How come absolutely nobody else in the entire world is reporting that they were offside on both goals? Do you even know anything about soccer and how a forward can make a run through the defensive line right when the ball is passed as to not be offsides? Please watch the replay, you’re waaaaaaaaaay off.

    The penalty kick was clear as water too. Here’s evidence: http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t120/arfabe16/dossantos.jpg

    The elbow was a result of trying to break free of the highly illegal shirt grab. Also, learn the taxonomy. How can Giovani commit a penalty when they’re inside the other team’s box? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Keep making a fool of yourself. :-/

  3. naxself

    Thanks for the comment.

    I can appreciate your point of view but I must point out that it was the second goal (at 62 minutes) where Mexico had two players clearly offside. The fourth goal, at 79 minutes, was clearly onside and was, in fact, a beautiful assist by Carlos Véla). If you’ll re-read the post, you’ll note that I only said one goal (at 62 minutes) was offside, not two.

    Your still does, in fact, show Heaps grabbing dos Santos’s shirt. Yet that goes uncalled on every corner kick and most entries into the box. What your still does not show is the elbow dos Santos threw to Heaps’ face. My position is that those two actions cancel each other out and therefore there is no penalty. Had the infraction been called on do Santos, it would obviously be a free kick for the US.

    Please stop assuming I know nothing; respect goes a long way.

  4. Greco

    Apologies, I didn’t mean to sound offensive. It’s just that you’re showing you don’t have a very good grasp of the rules of the game. I’ll prove it to you once more:

    First, two fouls don’t “cancel” each other out. That’s not how soccer works. Whichever foul was comitted first, gets called. If the second foul was an agression, the ref can choose to card the player, but the first foul stands, and that first call indicates where and how play is restarted. Furthermore, the elbow was a result of the shirt-pulling and trying to break free of the defender’s shirt grabbing. But even without acknowledging that, the initial shirt-pull is a clear penalty and that can’t be reversed or canceled even if Giovani shot the defender in the face after the fact. 🙂

    Now, secondly, the second goal was ABSOLUTELY AND CLEARLY not offside. Look at the image: http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/5792/nooffsidel.jpg

    See how the player who received the ball (on the far left) is cleary NOT offside? And this is after the pass was made (the ball can be seen at the very top of the center line.) The second player (on the right) clearly IS offside, but since he is not the one receiving the pass, the rulebook says an offside SHOULD NOT be called. If you watch the replay, the second player knows he’s offside, so he consciously reduces his pace until the play advances and he’s not offside anymore, and then makes the supporting run. This is completely valid and a very basic part of the offside rule. Like I said, don’t you think you’d be the only person in the whole wide world calling this offside? If it was indeed offside, it would be VERY, VERY obvious. But the rule says only the player to whom the ball is played needs to be onside: http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41660000/gif/_41660328_offside_rule_416x300.gif

    Hope this helps. 🙂

  5. naxself

    Once again, thank you for your comment. It is appreciated.

    According to the rules you are, of course, correct when you say that two fouls don’t cancel each other out. But, in practice, that’s how the game is called. It is my opinion, and I’m not alone, that the shirt tug was, at best, minor while dos Santos both elbowed Heaps and tripped over his own feet. His entire goal was to draw a penalty and, to his credit, it worked. I do not believe a penalty should have been called.

    It would appear that I missed that subtlety of the offside rule. I re-checked the highlights and it would appear as though I was wrong. Thanks for the BBC link; it helped. I’ll add an update to the post to reflect that.

    Once again, thanks for your comments. You’re helping to make this a better blog and I appreciate that. 🙂

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