olympic sports

An instant classic at Old Trafford

I’m just going to state for posterity what should be remembered about today’s Olympic semifinal, in which the U.S. women beat Canada by the odd goal in seven:

  • Christine Sinclair is a brilliant player, and it’s nice to see her finally getting a worthy showcase, even in a loss.
  • Fellow Portland alum Megan Rapinoe should now be alongside Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan as the stars of the U.S. team. She’s already one of the best crossers of the ball in any level of soccer. Her second goal today was simply superb.
  • Referee Christiana Pedersen wasn’t up to the task. Many of her calls, including the barely precedented delay of game call on Erin McLeod and the subsequent harsh handball call, favored the USA. But she also let far too much go uncalled, including a “Wambach sandwich” on a set piece in which the U.S. target forward was held and clobbered in the head by two different players.
  • The referee should not take away from the performance of the players. The game was a thrill to watch.
  • It’s a pity this game wasn’t the final. Canada deserves a medal. That’s the best game I’ve seen that team play, and it comes on the heels of a sturdy quarterfinal performance.

Classic games usually have their share of messiness and controversy along with the brilliance. This one certainly did. And it’s one in which both teams deserve to be remembered for their efforts.

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4 replies »

  1. I think all of your observations are on point. Tancredi’s 8 fouls in the second half escaped a 2nd caution. The sandwich was egregious (once upon a time the sandwich was an Advice to Referees mandatory holding, which would have resulted in a PK in this case). It’s one of the problems with the Olympics that the referreeing is not based on an international standard. Each country provides (like the World Cup) and players do not necessarily see the very best. Also, only women referee women’s matches and only men, men’s. The one thing everyone SHOULD agree on is both teams played a really wonderful, heartfelt, physical game. A classic for all time!

  2. The US women’s team generally dominates every team, including the Canadian women’s team but on balance the referee perhaps robbed the Canadians of the game. The indirect free kick for time wasting is hardly ever called in a game. I cannot recall this call ever been made for a 10-11 second delay. Never in an elimination game of this magnitude. Even for a 20 second delay, there is usually first a verbal warning and if the offense is repeated a yellow card is given in a dead ball situation or the indirect free kick in a live ball situation. If the referee wanted to apply the letter of the six second delay rule, she would have made nine or ten of those calls on both teams today.

    The penalty was also a bad call although not an egregious call since it is a judgement call. However, if she did not call the hand ball by Rapinoe in the US penalty area, there is no way you call a hand ball on the opposite end of the pitch.

    Having said this, I am not convinced that the the Canadians would have held to the 3-2 lead. They were under mounting pressure and were rather sloppy in defense after the injury to the holding midfielder Desiree Scott.

    Both Rapinoe and Sinclair were superb and they exhibited excellent technical skills. Both goalkeepers were not up to par. They allowed too many crosses in the six-yard area without challenging forwards attempting to make headers. for the most part, the US defenders were caught ball-watching of both headers by Sinclair when in-swingers were made into the box.

  3. I just wonder who made the bad decision to assign Pedersen as the Ref for this particular match (when it had the potential of being quite the matchup with Canada being even stronger and more determined now) as she was very apparent in being over her head when she misses many calls, makes bad calls (besides those two free kicks on goal) and was in wrong or bad positions in watching the play. The call on holding ball too long is practically never called even with several warnings and whistles and now she will be known as one of the few who has ever made that ruling, especially without a warning given by her first.

    Christine Sinclair said the ref even giggled when she asked her about the holding call and ref never answered.

    I know refing is not a easy job to please everybody especially at Pro level but she should not do any more Olympic matches for 2012 and even future until she has gained better experience and prove to be neutral.

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