By Bladd Drwg
I have no real love for MLS soccer – the play reminds me of schoolyard basketball, the skill level is marginal compared to watching any European team play and the officiating is downright atrocious. I did recently go see the US Open Cup final between Seattle and Kansas City and was treated to everything I hate about watching an MLS game.
Both teams looked flat and the Sounders looked like they were playing not to lose the game. KC was not much better and the bulk of regulation time was spent with both teams middling around in the middle of the field making bad passes and not really pushing any attacks. It was frankly as exciting as watching paint dry. Both teams had a few scoring chances, but in those cases they were generally created by defensive mistakes rather than offensive skill.
The Sounders managed to get flagged for 4 yellow cards in regulation – and in each of those cases, the card should have been awarded. The Sounders should have only had 3 cards – Alonso was going to be warned early on for an aggressive play but he kept walking away from the ref, and eventually pushed the official away drawing the yellow. There was only one play that I thought KC made that might have warranted a yellow, but the ref did not call it. There were a number of questionable calls on both sides of the ball but I don’t believe the handball that lead to a KC goal was a bad call (unfortunately GolTV refused to show replays on just about every play).
After going 90 all tied, we were treated to another 30 minutes of incipit soccer as KC practically dominated the overtime but could not mount much of an attack. For all you Sounders fans – yes, Ianni deserved his yellow in the 119th minute – he pulled down a guy that had no defenders between him and the goal; that is an automatic yellow.
After watching 120 minutes of uninspired play, we got to witness the soccer equivalent of kissing your sister – penalty kicks. For the sake of the setup – a goalie is supposed to start on the goal line and is not supposed to move until the player taking the kick strikes the ball; a rule that is rarely enforced except on the last kick. If the goalie moves before the ball is struck or does not start out touching the goal line and touches the ball preventing a goal, it is a rekick. If he does not touch the ball, there is no rekick, even if the player kicking the ball does not score. That is exactly what happened at the end of the game, leading to a 3-2 advantage for KC and the win. (Yes – the replay does show that the Sounders goalie did not start out on the line).
If you read Jerry Brewer’s account in the Seattle Times, you will get a very different perception of the game. Some of the “highlights”:
…after a grueling 120 minutes of tense competition, after drama, frustration and five decisive penalty kicks from each team, history succumbed to anger, confusion and allegations of biased officiating.
It was a spirited contest, as competitive as you want a title game to be. But when it was over, the Sounders were left miffed and unsatisfied.
If Brewer thought the game was competitive and spirited, I suggest he watch a Champions League final or a Euro tournament.
A slightly less biased article (and a much more realistic view of the game) was written by Jeff Carlisle on espn.com. It’s title? “Hard to watch, easy to love.” I think that just about summed up the game.