Soccer needs replay; Donovan saves the sport?

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USA Soccer

Here was my original lead: Don’t expect
soccer to pick up in popularity in the U.S. anytime soon. Especially not
after how this latest World Cup went down. Instead of moving on to the
Round of 16, the U.S. is heading home after being robbed of a goal – and a
win – for the second straight game.


Here was my original lead, the one I wrote after regulation time had expired in the U.S.’s World Cup clash with Algeria: Don’t expect soccer to pick up in popularity in the U.S. anytime soon. Especially not after how this latest World Cup went down. Instead of moving on to the Round of 16, the U.S. is heading home after being robbed of a goal – and a win – for the second straight game.

For a sport looking to pick up more fans in the States – soccer may have just lost some.

Here’s the new version, written 46 seconds later after Landon Donovan’s historic goal:

Wow!

As a player you’re always told that officials don’t decide games. Having been in this profession long enough, I know all to well that they do. And Wednesday they almost did again.

Thankfully Donovan – a player – decided the contest. That’s not always the case.

Occasionally at a sporting event I’ve wanted to approach an official after a game and tell him (or her) that as a neutral bystander I think their performance was horrible. I’ve never done it and won’t. But I want to.

So does the US National Team. And they have every right to.

It took a movie script-ending Wednesday to provide justice for the U.S. National Team which was in jeopardy of being punched in the gut two games in a row by officials who had disallowed “good” goals.

Obviously officials make mistakes in every sport. But some sports have combated that by employing instant replay. Soccer is not one of them although it should be.

To be honest, of all sports soccer is the easiest to officiate. The games sometimes end up 0-0 and are always low scoring. The amount of actual “impact” plays is limited.

Which is why instant replay is needed that much more.

When there is only 5-6 plays a game that can decide the outcome, you need to get them right. They are THAT important.

Also important? What Donovan did for U.S. Soccer by making that goal.

Soccer could have received a setback had U.S. viewers left this World Cup with a sour, foul and bitter taste in their mouths – the result of two wins denied by poor officiating.

Instead, U.S. fans will get to watch the U.S. in the Round of 16. They’ll get another chance to watch soccer and cheer – instead of cuss.

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