World Cup USA-Slovenia "THE CALL" -- Breakdown

I wish this could be briefer and I’m blessed to have had enough time and the resources to get the answer about which the whole world is wondering (or at least to be able to derive a better answer) for the referee’s disallowance of what would have been the winning goal by Maurice Edu, but here goes.

Short Version:
Good call by the referee and the fault of Carlos Bocanegra who intentionally, though was not alone as the video will show below, tried to take his defender down by grabbing his jersey.

Now if that sounds crazy and you want to know really why please view the evidence including excerpts of a post I made earlier today for fellow American fans.

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If you have about 10 minutes have at it to slow it down for yourself and as described below. Take your time. Below is the breakdown of relevant frames.

One HUGE question still remains to be answered considering reports that the referee blew the whistle BEFORE Edu scored. Did he really? Do we have audio evidence also then? Where?

Well it turns out it the referee on the original telecast referee indeed DID blow the whistle, and loud at that, BEFORE Edu kicked in the goal. Also apparent in the replay of the telecast is that the referee was looking at Carlos Bocanegra in the center as described below who no doubt, like Jay Demerit, knew EXACTLY what he was doing with some old tricks by soccer defenders.

Here is a breakdown of the YouTube clip in the above article for after you take a close look at it slowed down for yourself.

0:18 – This is the moment the ball is kicked by Donovan in the regular broadcast frame of the game. Notice an excellent “no call” by the linesman with #4 Bradley, the teammate nearest Donovan, who is even with the second-to-last defender to mean that he is still onside. This is important to know because ESPN reported incorrectly that the call made was offsides plus also there was never any such indication by the linesman as would be evidenced in the replay by the flag going up. Great “no call” by the linesman. Also note that I know at least the Italian media did not botch that call to state it was offside as is likely for other foreign media covering the game, so this is yet another offside screw-up by ESPN even with their seasoned crew.

0:34 – Stop here on thisclose-up frame first to examine the position of each US player and all the grabbing, pushing, dodging and/or holding by BOTH sides. I count SIX US players engaged in such regard as I explain further below with only the dodging within the rules of course.

0:36-0:37 – Here are the key frames to show the following evidence, only parts of the referee in real-time did see before he made the call to indicate a foul had taken place on the US.

Reports were out later that the referee blew the whistle BEFORE the goal, and those have turned out to be indeed true.

Indeed as well the referee had the whistle not only in his mouth, as is normal for referees, but also from video evidence we can see at the time of the kick his hand on the whistle well before the ball arrived to Edu.

Left To Right Here Is The Breakdown By US Player In Blue At 0:36-0:37

#17 Altidore:
Clearly held with both hands around his chest from the rear by the Slovenian player

#3 Bocanegra (US captain):
Has one arm of the Slovenian defender by his head, but Bocanegra has both hands on the defender himself and the left arm clearly around the waist of the defender if not also grabbing the defender’s shirt.

#19 Edu:
Has clearly broken away from the defender though the defender may still be attempting to grab him or still has a slight hold with his left hand.

#9 Gomez:
In a shoving match with the Slovenian captain who has both hands on his shoulders after having also been pushed from behind by another Slovenian player.

#8 Dempsey:
Running free to goal far post just like in practise after evading his defender.

(all the way in the back at the top of the frame)

#15 Demerit:
The defender has one hand on Demerit’s right shoulder, but Demerit has his left hand on the defender’s right shoulder as well as his right hand grabbing clearly ahold of the defender’s shirt right on the upper central chest in the V-neck collar area.

(all the way to the right, bottom right of frame)

#4 Bradley:
Gasping from the “Heimlich Manoeuvre” administered by the defender as if the defender thought he were choking all along.

Conclusion In My Humble Opinion:

The referee may have not seen all the other holding going on by Slovenia, but no question he saw enough in Bocanegra to blow the whistle. I don’t like it either, but that is all it takes to waive the goal and such and the complaints to follow are not unprecedented in football.

Sure the referee could have ordered a re-kick, but he may have also seen that the offence by Bocanegra as verified on the video was grievious.


Q: Didn’t the referee rob the US of a goal? Wasn’t this just plainly a bad call!


The whistle was blown loudly BEFORE the goal. Stoppage of play means no goal. By all appearances from a video replay with an angle I have not yet found online, the referee happened to see the infraction of the US player more than the others. Should he have seen the rest of the action? Perhaps but keep in mind Demerit’s play as well such that upon view of that conduct the whistle would have blown all the same.

Q: Hey but isn’t there a FIFA conspiracy against the US?

Back to drinking whatever you were drinking to excess please and leave us alone until you are clean or sober again.

Q: Okay, I see there was a lot of pushing and shoving so what that happens all the time at many levels as most soccer fans know! Why did the referee just not let it go?

He could have let things go and have the goal stand no doubt, but remember any referee is ruling based on what HE sees in real time not on what we see now on YouTube broken down and analyzed. For sake of this particular set piece, making the best call or a correct call is quite the tall order for even a highly accomplished referee at the top level.

The referee called it like he saw it and correctly for that matter if not completely.

Q: Hey why are you “defending” the referee he sucked the whole match Paolo! What’s wrong with you you (expletive tirade)?

Actually the referee missed quite a few calls but did call the game consistently for BOTH teams. The booking of Findley was nonsense, as the ball hit his face, but it was close and the referee judged that he had used his shoulder. Again let’s remember calls have to be made in real time in fast action.

Also many making this criticism of the referee forget that FOUR Slovenian players were booked with three in short order and promptly into the second half.

I am sure in Slovenia they are criticising those calls too.

Q: Why doesn’t the referee explain what happened?! We demand and are due an explanation damnit!


By FIFA laws the referee need not do anything after the match but fill out a match report, and even so he need not identify the offender or justify the call in that report. Expect FIFA to defend the referee or continue to offer “no comment.”

And the referee I don’t think wanted to bother to explain all that he saw as there was plenty of dirt for sake of fouls on both sides including even clearly two US players. That’s a no-win situation for him no doubt.

FIFA Recommendation
No one wants to hear any of that reality about not being given the complete explanation at the time of the infraction by the referee including me, as this is the only code of football of which I am aware where the exact infraction is not cited let alone like in some codes the offending player(s). The one exception that comes to mind is the offside call as indicated with the flag raised by a linesman.

This ambiguity in referee rulings is a huge problem here for “the beautiful game” in these times not to neglect to mention heavily problematic for non-regular soccer viewers as well as some long-time fans like me tired of these hijinks, real or imagined, and all the fuss to follow.

FIFA ought to address such matters of lingering ambiguity in the game with far better clarification of the Laws of the Game.

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And here’s another take though the video replays do not corroborate two claims including the theory that the referee disallowed the goal due to Bradley’s (the “choking” player noted below) actions. It did not look from the video that the referee could even see Bradley without first seeing Bocanegra’s actions nearest to him.

All the same based on the other calls missed and for letting the match get too physical by too many “non-calls,” the referee likely won’t take part in the tournament as a referee though can as a linesman.

I don’t blame the ref however for not wanting to pull out the red card to give one team decisive advantage unless overwhelmingly obvious or as mandated without question, but hey just the controversy is enough to pull him off the pitch at this point as he has lost credibility.

but what are you really trying to say.

dont be bashfull, spit it out

Good call but badly called game overall that was the best of the World Cup so far -- but I already "spit" at the top of the first post FYB with the "short version" as noted.

Otherwise below it I am just going beyond all the media fuss that does not include all the evidence including especially the audio replay . Lots of homerism in the coverage here too though they are trying to be objective, which hey great of course how I wish the call were that awful but clearly it is not.

The evidence for my opinion in the very small minority on the "good call," including the link to some good video for those interested, is below it. If more people saw it they would change their minds too, but most won't bother I don't think granting of course not everyone has all the extra time I happen to have this week.

Can't take the time to read your long posts Paolo but I saw the highlights this morning and while I don't know soccer much, I didn't see anything.

But the referee DID see enough and blew the whistle correctly BEFORE the goal to call the play dead.

However he did not see everything and refereed a bad match otherwise starting sometime after the 30th minute.

Of course I don't expect many if any to read the whole thing that's why I put the "Short Version" right at the top of the first post.

Also you can skip to the recommendation to make it a better game at the very bottom as well.

And then if still in doubt, well there is plenty of video linked here and you can watch the audio replay to verify the whistle blown before the goal.

True enough, bad reffing but did blow the whistle before as you say.

Great explanation, Paolo. Seems to me just bad luck that out of all the pushing and grabbing (mostly by the Slovenian defenders) Bocanegra was the nearest to the ref and he saw him. If he saw Bradley being paralyzed by the tight bro-hug it would've likely been a PK.

And I agree there's no FIFA conspiracy against the US. It wouldn't make sense. US is the country paying the most $$ ($425 mil) to FIFA for the world cup rights if I've heard correctly. Having US and Mexico do well, go further in the tourney, and build up great ratings is in their best interest (so that they're likely to receive even more $$ in the future). FIFA wouldn't go out of their way to rig the games in favor of US/Mexico of course but to say they are trying to hold down the US is a pure non-sense.

The fact that the ref doesn't have to say what the call is for does seem strange to me and corruption-friendly. You can just blow the whistle for nothing, don't have to explain anything to anyone, go watch the replay after the game and see if there is anything close to a foul or handball that you can justify the call with. There are few things I'd like FIFA to change including introducing an instant replay for controversial calls, at least those that result in goal (give each team one shot at using that option the whole game), although many would dislike the idea. It would take 60 seconds at most, and can be done while the players are celebrating or arguing with the ref. Even if it takes 30 seconds or so longer you can just add that to the stoppage time.

Anyways, I'm rooting for the Americans here (and other Concacaf countries). It's good to see them in control of their own destiny for a change. They should be able to take care of Algeria next, and If they can't they probably don't deserve to advance anyway.