Individually, you could probably argue that Robbie Keane was fouled in stoppage time Thursday, as Columbus’ one-goal lead in Southern California evaporated behind two late spot shots from the Galaxy’s Irish international striker. The Galaxy won, 2-1.
But in all honesty, most referees are not going to make that call. Not seven minutes after awarding an equalizing penalty kick. Generally speaking, the standard for what constitutes a penalty kick is elevated for a team once the first one is whistled.
So when referee Sorin Stoica pointed to the spot for Los Angeles in the 85th minute, you might have felt a little badly for Columbus. But Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum did trip Jose Villarreal, so the call was correct.
But the “foul” that felled Keane two minutes into stoppage time? No … the Galaxy were absolutely handed a lifeline on that one.
As he waited and watched for Colin Clark’s cross, Keane crumbled when he felt contact from Crew defender Bernardo Anor. “If someone runs into the back of you, the fact is you’re going to fall over,” he said afterward.
Even if you disagree that the standard should rise a bit after a referee awards one penalty kick – and it’s a good argument to make, that a foul is a foul is a foul … I’m just saying that generally speaking, that’s what happens – the second PK should never have been blown. Stoica simply has to be better there. He must recognize the difference between a legitimate foul that prevents a goal scoring opportunity and a wise old hand gambling that a pretty lousy bit of embellishment will fool the referee. In this case, it certainly did.
“He’s smart,” Anor said, referring to Keane. “He was waiting for a tiny touch for him to go down. He was fortunate to get the call. It’s the referee’s call, and we can do nothing about that.”
Here are the two instances, both toward the end of the highlight pack: