Game

Snow sees Colorado-Philadelphia postponed, re-scheduled for Sunday

1 Comment

[tweet https://twitter.com/MLS/status/310424731914469380]

Oh, c’mon! Are you telling me you couldn’t play in that?

Okay, I believe you. Putting the ball in the picture provides some perspective. Today’s game in Commerce was just not going to happen. Instead, MLS has rescheduled the Rapids’ home opener against Philadelphia for tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET.

From the linked announcement:

“As always, the safety of our fans, staff and athletes is paramount, and the conditions in the Denver area preclude the game from being played as originally scheduled.” MLS EVP of competition and game operations Nelson Rodriguez said in a league statement. “We would like to thank both clubs for working with us to plan accordingly and we look forward to their match on Sunday at 1 pm local time.”

An earlier starts and later finishes mean a few more Major League Soccer matches will fall into iffy weather windows. Today’s match was a casualty. Northern Europe deals with this every once in a while, and thanks to the ever-expanding MLS calendar, our domestic league gets to deal with it, too.

More, this time from Tim Hinchey:

“We had hoped and planned to play our match as scheduled, but we cannot put staff, fans, and players from both teams at risk by asking them to travel or play in unsafe conditions,” Rapids club president Tim Hinchey said in a statement. “The weather, roads and field will clear up by Sunday at 1:00, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for our home opener at that time.”

Commence with your obligatory soccer calendar observations. Feel free to assume Sepp Blatter’s reading. Now is the time.

Let’s face it: Zlatan Ibrahimovic shouldn’t have been red carded

6 Comments

As I watched the replay of Tuesday’s Valencia-Paris Saint-Germain match (because I hit Celtic-Juve first), I was surprised to hear relatively little debate about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s red card. The PSG star saw straight red and earned the corresponding suspension after this stoppage time challenge:

The two arguments on this:

Ibrahimovic went over the top of the ball, making this a reckless, unnecessary challenge. He made full contact in a way that could have hurt Andres Guardado, therefore making it dangerous. While that may not be a red card every time, referee Paolo Tagliabento was within his rights to show Ibra red.

If that argument sounds dispassionate, it’s because I’m not buying it. This is just Ibrahimovic stepping on somebody’s foot, and while it’s conceivable the game could evolve to the point where this type of cynical foul would be an automatic red, dismissing Ibrahimovic is disproportionate. We just don’t see red cards for that type of foul. There’s no reason for Ibrahimovic, in the moments leading into that action, to believe he’d see red for what he’d decided to do. For Tagliabento to dismiss him for it is unjust.

Within the wiggle room referees get to interpret dangerous plays, Tagliabento’s entitled to his interpretation. It’s not outright wrong, and it’s probably not worth making a big deal about. Even if he is wrong, Tagliabento is entitled to occasional mistakes. Unless this is type of decision is a pattern from the Italian official, it’s better to just chalk it up to the game’s natural variance. Just bad “luck” for Ibra.

Though you could argue Ibrahimovic’s play was dangerous because it could have broken some toes, that interpretation of danger (potential harm) is problematic. There are a number of more common, more dangerous plays that are allowed to transpire through the course of a game – plays that would never draw a red card. Almost any time a player goes to ground, he’s exposing his opponent to more injury than Guardado was exposed to. Then a player is second in the air to contest a header, he’s risks concussions for both himself and this adversary. Even when a goalkeeper goes to punch a ball, he often puts other players at risk with the follow through or his jump.

In each of those situations, players commit to “dangerous” actions because they know they’re allowed to. Game in, game out they play by a set of standards enforced by the officiating community, standards to which they’ve adapted their game. They know what will and won’t bring red cards, and they act accordingly.

Going into today’s match, the game’s conventions allowed for what Ibrahimovic did. At least, they didn’t call for Ibrahimovic to be dismissed for that challenge. At some point before Tagliabento’s whistle, that changed. And now Ibrahimovic will miss the return leg.

Roberto Mancini insists Manchester City didn’t deserve to lose

4 Comments

“We didn’t deserve to lose this game.”

Cosmically, perhaps none of us deserve to lose games. That carries the implication there’s something inherently wrong with some of us, a thought too morose to leverage in a post-match interview. In turn, perhaps nobody deserves to win games either, so if Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini’s thesis is that the existential irrelevance of soccer games means all matches should end in draws, I’m down with that.

What I’m less “down with” is managers (typically losing ones) insisting the result is somehow undeserved or unfair. Whether it’s true or not, it’s lost all meaning.

So Roberto Mancini thinks his team didn’t deserve to lose. While I empathize, my first reaction is to wonder. Has he not seen a recent Manchester United game? Because a lot of them play out like Sunday’s Manchester Derby, and although many people complain that United doesn’t deserve their results, Mancini is the manager of one of the top clubs in the world. He should be smarter than that.

MORE: Benitez gets breakthrough at Sunderland

MORE: Breaking down Sunday’s Manchester Derby

“We played, and they won.”

In context (video, below), this quote came off implying Manchester City came to win, United was doing something else, yet the Red Devils got full points. It seems strange for somebody like me, a blogger, to have to remind a man reared in Italian soccer that there’s more than one way to win a game.

There wasn’t much that separated City and United on Sunday. United, scoring on all three of their shots, executed better. That they did so earlier in the match allowed them to play passively though most of the game. City dominated most of the match, but playing from behind, that wasn’t surprising. They did well to pull back two goals from the league leaders.

But both teams “played.” United just played differently. This not only happens, it happens almost every game.

MORE: Everton vaults fourth, beat Spurs

MORE: Rodgers project shines without Suárez

“For 20 minutes, they didn’t touch the ball, and the first chance they had, they scored.”

As Alex Ferguson’s Sunday tactics implied, you get no credit for touching the ball. You get credit for goals, which require touching the ball, but you don’t need to do so exclusively to score more than your opponent.

If your team touches the ball for 20 straight minutes and doesn’t score, that’s not necessarily a point in your favor, nor is your inability to stop the other guy the second they get the ball.

Stepping away from my pedantic little pedestal, it’s not uncommon for a manager to use the post-match media rounds as to vent. I only wish the complaints were less predictable. If managers are really going to bend reality to their liking, I’d rather them be absurd about it. Well, more absurd about it.

Here are Roberto Mancini’s real comments:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6h58znzzVk]