Three thoughts about Aurélien Collin’s now rescinded red card

Leave a comment

Sporting Kansas City’s Aurélien Collin saw straight red on Wednesday night against the Columbus Crew, a decision that was overturned today after the club’s appeal. You can see the play, above.

Collin will now be eligible to play tomorrow against the visiting Galaxy, though Edvin Jurisvic did cost him 35 minutes in Wednesday’s match. Though Sporting still won the game, 2-1, the dismissal still left us with three thoughts about the decision’s causes, implications:

1.)  Collin’s reputation

Coming into the season, Aurélien Collin’s three years in Major League Soccer had featured 31 yellow cards but only one dismissal. This year, that’s changed. Maybe the odds are catching up to the physical rearguard, but after an astounding 2013 with 15 yellows and zero reds, Collin’s been dismissed twice in 2014. Other the last nine games, Collin’s tripled his number of career red cards.

So what’s going on here? Obviously, a mistake. At least, that’s what caused the most recent red card, but seeing why Collin was given his marching orders, you wonder if the Sporting defender is being subjected to some heightened scrutiny. Is that record of yellow cards drawing more attention to Collin’s defending.

In fairness to the officials, “more attention” has been a theme throughout the season. Across the league, we’re seen red cards handed out somewhat liberally, phenomena that’s led to a slew of lopsided and “wow, that changed quick” results (such as when Collin was dismissed at New England earlier this year).

source: Getty Images
Collin accumulated 15 yellows without a red last season. This year, he’s been dismissed twice, though the second red was overturned. (Source: Getty Images)

Perhaps Collin’s aggressive approach doesn’t fit as well in this new, hyper-critical MLS. Or maybe this is just a phase – an anomalous span, after which Collin will go back to his line-walking ways. Regardless, the KC defender’s reputation for testing officials may a part of this equation.

After Wednesday’s decision, I wonder: Was Collin being judged on play or repute? I think it’s the former, but I’m keeping my mind open to the latter.

2.) MLS is still way ahead of the game on this

An official screwed up. Kansas City appealed. The call was reversed. While the team doesn’t get to replay those last 35, it doesn’t matter. Sporting still won, and after the independent review panel upheld their appeal, they’ll get Collin back for tomorrow’s showcase against the visiting Galaxy.

It almost goes without saying, but after a World Cup where the rest of the world marveled at vanishing spray (while at one time questioning the accuracy of goal-line technology), some perspective is nice: Major League Soccer’s willingness to redress these mistakes leaves the league far ahead of most on this issue.

Rather than sit back and wax philosophically about the sanctity of each match, MLS is being proactive, a process that involves confessing the obvious: Officials are fallible. But instead of adopting a quixiotic approach that romanticizes the value of those imperfections, MLS is saying they can address issues, offer a solution, and provide some negative feedback to the process. They’ve implemented a process by which they can evolve.

Unfortunately, that prompts the next question; or, to look at it another way, the next stage of the process:

3.)  How to make it better

This may not be something MLS can snap their fingers and implement, but a solution will happen one day. At some point in the future, people are going to demand a real-time fix to such obvious errors, and while there’s always concern for “flow of the game,” there are two situations were a quick, off-field review can happen, providing a solution that would respect the game’s flow.

source:
Goal-line technology was used for the first time at this summer’s World Cup.

That’s because on penalty kicks and red cards, the game’s already stopped, usually for 60 or 120 seconds. Given how much matches change in those situations, there’s a huge incentive to get those calls right, even if it means adding a little more time to that stoppage.

In a world where each MLS game is streamed online, where the World Cup showed how easy and elegant you can communicate with the lead official, having a centralized review (a la what the NBA is implementing) just isn’t that hard. When everybody on Twitter is able to review controversial calls within seconds, it makes too much sense to ask the league to do so, too.

This isn’t about making a throw-in last forever. It isn’t about getting endlessly scrutinizing every little midfield infraction. It’s about asking “where would extra review be reasonable?” Given how the importance of dismissals and penalties (and the state of the technology), it’s more unreasonable to give in to an antiquated view about how high-level soccer should be played.

Whether this is issue needs to go through FIFA or IFAB, I don’t know. Sometimes, it’s unclear where those lines are drawn (or, are enforced). Regardless, this feels like implementing substitutions, or moving toward goal-line technology – controversies at which history will scoff.

If tradition-steeped sports like baseball, cricket, and tennis have a place for in-game technology, soccer can get there, too.

USWNT’s Harvey: From World Cup champ to human rights leader

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mary Harvey is used to blazing the trail in sports.

Despite growing up without major soccer tournaments to aspire to play in, the goalkeeper helped the U.S. win the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991 and the first women’s Olympic soccer title five years later.

“As a women’s national team, we didn’t set out to have wide scale impact, but we did,” Harvey recalled in an interview with The Associated Press. “From that I learned that that’s what I wanted my life to be about: the ability to impact others in a positive way.”

Today, that desire has made her one of the biggest campaigners for human rights through sports.

After starting her career as a consultant in the private sector, Harvey led development work at FIFA from 2003-08, helping formulate a human rights strategy for the successful 2026 World Cup bid by the United States, Canada and Mexico. Now Harvey will be taking that strategy global by heading a new sports human rights watchdog.

“The language of human rights it not certainly the language of sport,” Harvey said. “So I went through that personally and learned it (for the World Cup bid) and so I think the center has an opportunity to provide that.”

Harvey is preparing to move to Switzerland from the United States to serve as chief executive of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, hoping governing bodies adopt some of FIFA’s newfound commitment to making compliance on labor and discrimination issues central to whether a country can host a major event.

The game-changer was Qatar winning the vote to host the 2022 World Cup and the subsequent focus on labor conditions for migrant workers, which led to the energy-rich nation being compelled to provide greater protections. FIFA made bidders for the 2026 edition own up to their human rights risks and present a means of tackling them ahead of the vote this year.

FIFA serves on the Centre for Sport and Human Rights’ advisory board among 41 organizations across sports, along with sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Visa.

“In the future if people are bidding and they’re less than aggressive with what they want to do on the human right side, with maybe a smart box-ticking exercise,” Harvey said. “There should be accountability for that.”

It’s about leveraging the power of a country chasing a mega sports event to encourage changes.

“This isn’t a panacea for nation building,” Harvey said. “We can exert influence.”

That is necessary beyond major events, or high-profile teams.

Afghan authorities suspended the head of the soccer federation and other officials this month after media revelations of allegations of sexual and physical abuse of female players. Harvey hopes the Centre for Sport and Human Rights can be an outlet for athletes, officials or workers around sport to report wrongdoing and have their safety protected.

“Human rights defenders are targets,” Harvey said.

However, the center still requires investment, she added.

“We can’t operate with any sort of fear of what we say or do and how that affects funding,” Harvey said by telephone. “We have to be able to operate independently and provide a free service.”

The center was launched in June and is chaired by former Irish President Mary Robinson, who has also served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“We need to bring human rights more centrally into sport and make people involved in sport realize that they have to take responsibility and they have to work on many issues at so many different levels from the big stadiums to discrimination or racism or trafficking,” Robinson told the AP.

Using the center’s status, Robinson will be looking to secure greater protections for local communities impacted by sports events – such as the traders forced to close their stalls near World Cup venues, as Robinson complained to FIFA about during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and 2014 edition in Brazil.

“I hope they won’t exclude those who you know could actually improve their living by being able to trade around the stadiums and get the footfall on big occasions,” Robinson said.

There are also concerns about how free labor can be relied on to operate events.

“Volunteers can play a role,” Robinson said, “but not if it displaces the potential for people having jobs where the entities can well afford to give people the opportunity to have gainful employment rather than work as volunteers.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

FC Cincinnati acquires Kendall Waston from Vancouver

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

There was some teeth-grinding around MLS circles that perhaps FC Cincinnati bringing many of its USL players to the top flight could be a naive decision that leads to a Minnesota United level first year struggle.

Those concerns should be somewhat if not largely quelled on Tuesday, as FCC added two international quality backs and several other players via trades and the Expansion Draft.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 1-0 Napoli ]

FCC saved the best for last, acquiring Kendall Waston from the Vancouver Whitecaps for a lot of numbers and slots and stuff (via FCCincinnati.com):

  • $450,000 of General Allocation Money
  • $300,000 of Targeted Allocation Money
  • The 2019 international roster spot obtained from the Colorado Rapids via trade after the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft.
  • Vancouver will retain a percentage of future transfer fees should FC Cincinnati trade or transfer Waston.
  • Additionally, should Waston reach certain performance-based incentives with FC Cincinnati, Vancouver will also receive an additional $75,000 in GAM.

With respect to Greg Garza, no move is more promising than the rescue of Waston from Vancouver.

Waston had a down year this season with the Caps, but so did the Caps. The captain was angered by the firing of coach Carl Robinson, and said he was ready to move on (Vancouver also traded another critic, Kei Kamara, on Tuesday).

Thirty times capped by Costa Rica, Waston scored against Switzerland in his only action of the 2018 World Cup.

If Emmanuel Ledesma is able to have half the impact he had in USL, find steady goalkeeping, and line up a CB to pair with Waston (Forrest Lasso?), FCC is going to surprise a lot of teams.

Possible Champions League opponents (so far) for Liverpool, Spurs

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

First things first: There aren’t going to be any dogs in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16, but there are certainly teams you’d like to see on your docket more than others.

Now that Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have finished second in their groups, with Manchester United likely to join them, meaning Man City already has a good idea of its possible opponents.

[ MORE: UCL Weds. preview ]

In the Champions League Round of 16, you cannot be drawn with a team from your group or your domestic league. Both rules go out the window from the quarterfinals all the way to the final.

As it stands now, here are the first- and second-seeded teams:

First place: Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, PSG, Porto, Real Madrid.

Second place: Liverpool, Schalke, Spurs, Atletico Madrid, Roma

Likely to join that top group are Bayern Munich, Man City, and Juventus, which means a rough ride for the second place sides.

And should City get a point or lose and see Lyon drop one or three, it could have its potential field winnowed to four if Juventus handles its business in Switzerland to keep Man Utd out of first.

So fans of Liverpool and Spurs should be hoping to see Ajax surprise Bayern Munich with a win in Amsterdam, and they’d also like to see Juventus slip up at Young Boys and Man Utd win in Valencia.

City fans will hope for a win over Hoffenheim (or Lyon dropping points) and Bayern Munich and Juventus to handle their business and win their groups.

Possible opponents in the Round of 16 with one day of group play to go

Liverpool: Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Porto, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Lyon, Real Madrid, Juventus

Tottenham Hotspur: Borussia Dortmund, PSG, Porto, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Lyon, Real Madrid, Juventus

Man City: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, PSG, Porto, Schalke, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Real Madrid, Roma, Juventus.

Manchester United: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, PSG, Porto, Schalke, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Real Madrid, Roma, Lyon, Shakhtar Donetsk.

Champions League Weds. preview: Group stage conclusion

Martin Rickett/PA via AP
Leave a comment

Manchester United has already clinched its spot in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and faces rivals Liverpool on Sunday in the Premier League, but manager Jose Mourinho isn’t mailing it in when it comes to his lineup on Wednesday in Valencia.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Mourinho will start Paul Pogba and use all senior players at the start of the match, though he is bringing a pair of youngsters for the experience. From ManUtd.com:

“I’m looking for him to play well, and to have a good impact in the game and in the team. … [It will be] a team with many players that don’t have many miles in their legs, a team with some players that are not playing a lot. So I hope that people like Paul and a couple of others that are normally in the team, who have the number of miles that players need to be at that top level, I hope that they can have a good impact on the team.”

(Mike Egerton/PA via AP)

Man City has also clinched its spot in the next round but still has the group’s top slot in play and is also smarting following its first league loss since last Spring.

City fell to Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge this weekend, and will host a Hoffenheim side still attempting to finish in the Europa League place.

Rest players? With Sergio Aguero, David Silva, and Kevin De Bruyne unavailable, Pep Guardiola doesn’t have much of a choice as to who he can suit up on Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium.

“We have 15 players available, so I can’t do it too much,” he said.“We are in next stage which is important but we have to try and win every game, to finish first. Last 16 is always tough but in general the next Monday when there is a draw it’s a success we are there and the team we will face will be tough.

“They were incredible against Donetsk and they lost. It was incredible and fascinating to watch as a spectator. My admiration for Hoffenheim has increased. I knew about Julian Nagelsmann and his team but now I realize how tough tomorrow will be.”

The other match to monitor is in City’s group, where Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon remain alive for the last spot in the Round of 16.

Full UEFA CHampions League docket

Viktoria Plzen vs. AS Roma — 12:55 p.m. ET
Real Madrid vs. CSKA Moscow — 12:55 p.m. ET
Young Boys vs. Juventus — 3 p.m. ET
Benfica vs. AEK Athens — 3 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Lyon — 3 p.m. ET
Man City vs. Hoffenheim — 3 p.m. ET
Ajax vs. Bayern Munich — 3 p.m. ET
Valencia vs. Manchester United — 3 p.m. ET