he blogosphere and the airwaves are practically dripping with derision for the performance of Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda in Saturday's USA-Italy World Cup match. Kieran Healy asks, "Where do FIFA find these guys?" Frank Foer is aghast: "How can we account for his Mickey Mouse performance?"
I didn't get to see the game, but I've now read half a dozen stories about it. And I don't get it. Larrionda's sins included three red cards and an offside call against USA, but all of them appear to have been justified.
This time I agree with Kevin Drum
I watched the match and thought Larrionda officiated almost perfectly (which is very very hard they don't have enough referees on the field in soccer).
The 3 red cards were clearly justified Pablo Mastroeni could easily have broken the legs he spiked. Also the ball was no longer there so he could have spread his legs without affecting the game.
Pope's first yellow could have been read. Italy was trying a fast break and Pope was all alone and beaten by his guy with nothing between them and the goal line but the goalee Keller. He tackled the Italian. In basketball talk, this is a flagrant foul of someone with a clear path to the basket/goal. In this case it was not stupid, because one more Italian goal would have eliminated the USA. I don't really know the rules for red vs yellow, but I thought Larrionda was distinctly merciful.
Then Pope made a totally stupid foul at a not totally critical point (near the Italian goal though and thus withing the penalty zone). Playing with a yellow card is like playing with 5 fouls, and, I think, the guy should practice doing so.
I didn't understand the off sides call. I am not experct enough to comment here. My understanding (explained by Italian commentators) is that a goal is called back only if the offsides player has a role in making the goal. Normally this would be by kicking the ball, but blocking the goalees vision counts too. Notice McBride (who seems to be a truly classy human being) said after the game that he agreed with Larrionda, accepting the blame for the not at all disappointing tie.
And McBride also seems to be the only human being willing to defend Daniele De Rossi the guy who elbowed him in the face. At http://tinyurl.com/n4cqw "The midfielder apologized to McBride after the game and the American called him 'classy' for the postmatch gesture." McBride is a McMensch and I'm going to wear my US flag tie to work (in Italy) tomorrow.