Would it really be a major soccer match if there weren’t a little bit of controversy?
The U.S. Women advanced to the gold medal match, a World Cup rematch with Japan, in exciting fashion. Alex Morgan played the role of hero heading in the winner in the 122nd minute of extra time, finally putting away a ferociously tenacious Canadian side, led by Christine Sinclair who dropped three on the Americans.
However, there are many who believe that this match never should have made it to extra time. In the 78th minute, Canadian keeper Erin Mcleod was called for time wasting, holding onto the ball for more than six seconds, resulting in an indirect free kick for the United States. On the ensuing kick, a handball was called against Canada and Abby Wambach nailed the PK. The handball was clear. So was the time wasting…but with extreme shades of gray.
The rule in soccer is that a keeper is not allowed to hold the ball for more than six seconds. Mcleod held onto it for about 11-12. So she was clearly in violation of the rule. However, if yesterday’s match was the first soccer match you’ve ever watched, then maybe you could see some justification behind the rule. Even if the match was even the second match you’ve ever watched, then you can see how sketchy the call actually is.
Across national, gender, regional, or even skill lines, goalkeepers hold onto the ball for more than six seconds in every single soccer match. Ref’s will even warn keepers to get rid of the ball before blowing the whistle. Some say an assistant referee warned McLeod about time wasting, but that is not the same as the head referee warning her in the heat of the moment before blowing the whistle.
That being said, it’s always unwise to even let the match get to a point where the referee can turn the tide. Three times, the Canadians led the U.S. and three times, they allowed the U.S. to tie. Bad calls or not, you simply cannot let a team as strong as the United States back into the game. Before controversy could rear it’s ugly head, the Canadians ceded momentum twice due to the brilliant efforts of Megan Rapinoe. Hell, one could even argue it was karmic justice considering Melissa Tancredi channeled her inner Nigel DeJong and stomped on Carli Lloyd’s head.
The goalkeeping delay probably shouldn’t have been called. Tancredi probably shouldn’t have stomped on Carli Lloyd. The Canadians probably shouldn’t have let Christine Sinclair’s hat trick go to waste. But in the sports world, it’s always extremely foolish to rely on probably because all that matters is the actual.
In this case, it was actually 4-3 U.S.