Mid-Week Report

Bracelona 1 (3) • Real Madrid 1 (1)

Different referee same result.  And now Barcelona has punched its ticket to Wembley for the Champions League final.

Ok, if no-one in the media who covers soccer has the balls to say it, I will.  The fix was in.  There was no way EUFA was going to miss out on the opportunity to have Barcelona in the final at Wembley, and they did everything in their power to alter the two results of this tie.  Did Barcelona need the help?  Probably not, but they got it.

Even before Higuain’s perfectly legal goal was disallowed, there were other subtle calls.  Like calling offsides on Higuain in the 30th minute when he was perfectly level with both center backs.  Even though it would not have turned into a scoring opportunity the linesmen’s overzealous flag waved off the attack before it could ever become anything anyway.  Danger averted for EUFA.

As for the disallowed goal?  Had it counted, it would have completely changed the complexion of the entire semi-final.  Real would have been a goal away from extra time and we, the fans, would have been in for one hell of a finish.  But like the first leg of this tie, the fans got screwed.

And Barcelona, for all their skill, they act as if its an absolute insult to receive a hard tackle.  Like its going to stain their “beautiful game”.  Maybe they expect opposing teams to throw bouquets and part like the red see and let them score goals.  Because unless they are playing Real Madrid, that is what its like to play in La Liga.

Its matches like these that want to make me weep for the game I love so much.  Games like the France Ireland qualifier that saw Thierry Henry use his hands to set up the game winning goal.  Like Barcelona, France was just more sexy, and thus must have been deemed more tournament worthy by Michel Platini and EUFA.  And Platini?  He has the ax-men at his disposal to do it:  The referees.

Like Henry two years ago, everyone wants to brand Real manager Mourinho the villain.  Well don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Here’s hoping Manchester Unites Thrashes Barcelona in the final (sorry Schalke).

Red Bull New York 1 • Kansas City 0

Don’t know what you got until its gone.  

The great thing about a sub-woofer is its really unobtrusive.  You don’t really know the depth of support it gives your music until you turn it of.  Then you here all the cracks and holes of sound it was filling in.

The same can be said about Red Bulls holding Midfielder Teemu Tainio.  You don’t notice him much when he’s on the pitch.  But when he came off at half-time against Kansas City, the Red Bulls were a different team.  No longer did they dominate possession, they were far less organized, and didn’t create nearly as many quality scoring chances as they did in the first half.

But, style points aside, they got the result and that’s all that matters.

Red Bulls face the Galaxy in a must-watch game on Saturday (11 pm, ESPN2).

The Brian Mullan Incident

Like I had predicted (sort of), The MLS suspended Brian Mullan for ten games for his brutal tackle on Steve Zakuani.  Although harsh when judge against the MLS’s own track record, it was fair and just.  Now lets move on.

Soccer Night in America

This Friday, FSC will debut Soccer Night in America.  Basically they are re-branding their remaining Friday & Saturday night broadcasts under this new franchise.  Eric Wynalda and Christopher Sullivan will handle pre-game, half-time and post-game coverage.

Love Wynalda, and I here their will be some sick technology used in the broadcast.

The first program will be broadcast live from Portland this Friday at 10 pm as the Timbers take on Philadelphia.

USA vs. Slovenia - Is this Rugby?

One Last Thought

Watching the referees playing such a vital role in the outcome of big games is just really gut wrenching.  And if I am appalled, imagine the bemusement of the casual fan.

When a player errs in judgment you can be sure he will be reprimanded by the governing body.  But when a a referee makes a mistake mums the word.  Why is it that we can criticize players and tactics but its almost sacrilege to criticize a referee?

If FIFA wants to really clean the game up they need to knock the ivory towers down that referees currently reside in.  Here are some of my ideas:

• All referees should be made available in post-match press conferences

• Just as a player, referees should be called out and even fined for bad judgments

• The game has become far to subjective and needs to be more by the book.  If a referee sees a blatant hold in the box on a set piece, as we do week in and week out, call the penalty!

• Add an additional head referee and have the two referees on the field patrolling each half.  The game has evolved and gotten much faster and there are too many missed calls because the referee is behind the play.

• Remember, its the players the fans come to see.  Not the referees, and certainly not Platini or Blatter.