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Moreso than any other team sport, soccer depends on its players to have integrity. That’s because a penalty kick call can sway a game, and referees with their humanness just can’t discern in real time a trip from a dive.
But as baseball players have made plain, the urge to win fairly is no match for the urge to win.
These bad urges were on display with Taylor Twellman‘s boffo backwards fall in the box in the closing moments of last week’s game with D.C. United.
Twellman was awarded a penalty kick, which New England converted, giving the Revolution a one-goal home win. Replays showed Twellman wasn’t fouled; he was barely touched, in fact. His victim posturing while sitting on the turf after the fall is enough to make Pele hate soccer. (Here’s video of Twellman’s dive, which comes at the 4:40 mark.)
As reported in the Washington Post, arbiters from the U.S. Soccer Federation have now weighed in on the Twellman matter, and didn’t find much beauty in the performance. Instead, USSF blasted MLS officials for falling for the fall.
My favorite part of the USSF report came when it advised that the MLS game officials should have noticed that, as written by the Post’s Steven Goff, “no New England players showed signs of discontent—-‘a sign that can help confirm any instinctual feelings the referee may have.'”
So, refs should look at a diver’s teammates before making a call? Please.
But, even though the report vindicates D.C. United’s post-game whining about the call, there’s nothing the team can do about it. Except, well, bring Greg Louganis in for a clinic.
And, in case anybody’s wondering if cheaters ever prosper: Yes, they do. Twellman was named MLS player of the week yesterday.