Category: Archive

Nike U.S.Cup Irish cry foul in draw with U.S.

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Leo O’Connor

Ireland 1, USA 1

FOXBORO, Mass. — On a bizarre evening in outside of Boston on Tuesday, June 6,, Irish soccer survived a swirling wind, driving rain, and failing floodlights, but succumbed to sub-standard officiating that left spectators, coaches, journalists, and players dumbfounded.

The Irish surged into the lead on 31 minutes thanks to Dominic Foley’s second goal in as many international appearances but had to settle for a 1-1 draw against their host, the U.S., in the second round of the Nike U.S. Cup. It’s was Ireland’s second draw in the tournament. The previous Sunday in Chicago, the men in green tied Mexico, 2-2. The Americans, the eventual tournament champions, meanwhile, trounced South Africa 4-0 in their opener.

Although the men in green appeared to be coasting to a comfortable victory, other ideas were in the minds of Ante Razov, a U.S. forward, and Earnie Stewart, a U.S. sub, at half time. Stewart’s header left Razov with a simple tap of the ball into the Irish net. However, as everyone seemed to wait for the referee, Armando Archundia of Mexico, to rule the goal offside, the man in yellow turned and

pointed to the center circle.

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More by fortune than finesse, the U.S. was back on level terms.

Not surprisingly, Irish coach Mick McCarthy was none too pleased.

"A lousy decision took the momentum away from us," he said during a post-game press conference. "All in all it was an excellent performance by both teams under these conditions. What I have a problem with is officials who can’t see a clear offside."

More than 16,000 supporters braved horrible weather to see this Nike U.S. Cup grudge match. Both teams had changes from their lineups in previous games. Most notably for the United States was the absence from the starting lineup of Claudio Reyna, the exciting Glasgow Rangers midfielder, and Cobi Jones, two-goal, two-assist hero against South Africa in the opening game of this tournament. Ireland did without the hustling services of Niall Quinn, replaced for the start by Gary Doherty. Alan Kelly replaced Dean Kiely, who performed admirably in Ireland’s opener against Mexico, as McCarthy experimented with his lineup.

Ireland pressured early on, but it was the U.S., with a shot over the bar from Ben Olsen a few minutes into the game, that had the first clear-cut chance to score.

On 13 minutes, the ball swirled dangerously in the U.S. area after a Terry Phelan free kick, and Kevin Kilbane tried without succeeding to lob Brad Friedel, the U.S. keeper.

At this early stage, Ireland enjoyed more possession, but the U.S. was creating chances that were more promising. U.S. fullback Frankie Hejduk blasted over the bar from a free shot in the Irish penalty area on 22 minutes.

Up front for Ireland, Foley was continuing to impress after an excellent debut international game against Mexico. He whipped the ball across the Mexican box on 25 minutes, but striking partner Gary Doherty was unable to connect to send the ball goalward.

Foley made no mistake after 31 minutes as he controlled a speculative lob by Irish midfielder Stephen McPhail, and stretched to plant it past a stranded Friedel.

Ireland came close to extending its lead early in the second half as Doherty headed from within the six-yard box only to see his effort be grabbed comfortably by Friedel. One-minute later, Irish fullback Phelan halted a promising U.S. move with a spectacular overhead kick close to his goal line.

Ireland at this point seemed content to sit back on its lead, and one sensed this might be a tactical error. And although Foley came close again on 63 minutes with a header well saved by Friedel, the U.S. was again creating the more dangerous chances.

Nonetheless, this fledgling American team can consider itself fortunate to have actually tied the game in the 68th minute.

The Irish goal had been replayed repeatedly on television screens at Foxboro during halftime, because there had been a hint that an Irish player might have been offside. Each time the screen presented the goal, it became even more obvious that Foley’s effort was indeed legitimate.

It seemed no one but the referee and his assistants needed a replay of the U.S. goal. Razov was clearly yards offside as Stewart played the ball toward him.

That the officials were Mexican, and Mexico stood to gain most from a tied game, left some observers discussing conspiracy theories.

The most imaginative of these theorists were surely nodding in confidence when the lights failed in Foxboro Stadium two minutes after the U.S. goal.

Play resumed more than 20 minutes later and Ireland once gain grabbed the initiative in this increasingly bizarre spectacle.

Even the U.S. coach, Bruce Arena, admitted, "that was a strange game," when all was over. More important, when reporters pressed him, Arena said he viewed the replay of the U.S. goal and agreed that his goal-scorer seemed to be offside. Nonetheless, he boasted that over 90 minutes his team controlled the game and, therefore, deserved at least a tie.

McCarthy offered a noteworthy response to his counterpart. Arena, he said, tended to see things through self-adorning glasses, whereas McCarthy tried to look at the game more realistically. "Once we scored, I think we were the better side," he said.

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