World Cup: USA’s comeback against Slovenia

A quick note to share a few World Cup related links. ((By the way, a programming note: Things will return to normal here at, with regular posts about Thailand, soon. I promise.))

I can’t stop thinking about yesterday’s remarkable USA-Slovenia match, in which the US went down 2-0 in the first half and then fought back to level the score.


As I Tweeted earlier today, I was thrilled with the US team’s resilience. Landon Donovan, in particular, was exceptional. And Michael Bradley’s play was truly inspired; his neat toe-poke finish for the second goal was surely much harder than it looked.

I watched the game live and then watched the replay in its entirety today. What would have been the US’s winning goal was called back, which was — to say the least — unfortunate. (Indeed, the 3-2 win would have been the most memorable and dramatic US soccer victory in decades.)

No US player appeared to be offiside on the play, and though there was jostling among American and Slovenian players in the box, that had been happening all game long. It seems the referee chose to enforce the rule and whistle for a foul in this one instance, when that sort of pushing and shoving is commonplace in the modern game and had been happening throughout the contest.

That said, the US also benefited from other odd refereeing decisions during the game. Clint Dempsey’s foul in the opening minutes could easily have warranted a yellow card. And in fact, I’m not convinced that the foul that led to the free kick and the US’s called-back goal was actually a foul in the first place.

Here’s a match report from the NYT‘s George Vecsey, in which he rightly points out that the US team were to blame for falling behind in the first half.

And here’s an AP piece that describes scenarios for the US team advancing. The Americans can still progress, but they must beat Algeria. If they draw with Algeria, it gets complicated, but depending on the result of the England-Slovenia game, it’s still possible.

As for yesterday’s England-Algeria match, all I can say is that the Three Lions delivered another tepid performance. More on their side soon.

UPDATE: June 20: Regarding the called back goal, this theory seems possible: it was a make-up call, since the foul leading to the free kick — as I noted — was dubious.

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