Referee Costs U.S. Win, Robbed After Heroic Comback From 2-0 Down to Tie
After a devastating start that included yet another early goal allowed by the U.S. – and a second goal before half – the U.S. battled back for a draw with a tenacious rally and was only denied a victory by a mind-boggling referee decision.
Landon Donovan fueled the U.S. comeback, first by blasting in a goal just after halftime from a seemingly impossible angle. Then, as Slovenia tired and collected yellow cards like candy on Halloween, the Americans finally equalized in the 82nd minute thanks to the coach’s son, Michael Bradley. With momentum so firmly in their grasp that it seemed only a matter of time before the team scored a winner.
As full time drew near, that winner came off the toe of Maurice Edu after a free kick, but it was astonishingly disallowed by Malian referee Koman Coulibaly. He appeared to call Michael Bradley offside even though Bradley was being bear-hugged from behind by a Slovenian defender. (UPDATE: The official FIFA match report claims a foul on Edu.)
The baffling call sparked confused outrage from the U.S. team as it had no idea why the goal was disallowed. In Bob Bradley’s first post-match interview, he said he still didn’t know what the call was and why the goal didn’t count. But even with a detailed explanation written in 500-point font on the largest billboard in Times Square accompanied by graphs and a 3-D re-enactment, I don’t think the U.S. team or its fans could accept that it was anything but a horrible call.
Thankfully, the U.S. still has a good chance at advancing out of the group after this confidence-pumping comeback if it can beat Algeria in their final group match. But until then, the urge for U.S. fans to break household items probably will remain impossibly strong.
In an effort to ease those feelings of anger and confusion, here’s Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovic cowering from Landon Donovan’s mighty shot: