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Take It On The Chin

By now, I’m sure everyone everywhere who has been following the World Cup has heard about the Call Made Yet Not at the end of the USA vs. Slovenia match. While commentators seem to universally agree it was a botched refereeing job and fans are howling at the moon with rage and feeling robbed, I hope that’s as far as the whole thing goes. Sure, I hope FIFA sends that ref home so he can’t botch another match. Sure, while watching the game I had no idea what he was calling and on whom and worse, neither did the commentators, meaning the ref hadn’t explained his call. That’s a cop out and only ads fuel to the fire. Sure, I was incensed that goal hadn’t counted. How can someone wave off a hard-fought goal for something other than swordplay? I can’t blame the players for mouthing off. I would have. In the distant past, I once did. I’ve hated my share of refs, convenient whipping posts in times of emotional travail at the end of a close must-win game. I hope, though, that US Soccer and the national team let it lie, that the words spoken and anger shown belonged to that night and that night alone.

A formal petition or whatever the sport equivalent of a lawsuit should never see the light of day. The players should put it behind them and go on. The world feels some sympathy for the US. That’s a sentiment that shouldn’t be squandered by coming off as a sore loser, which is what will happen if the incident isn’t allowed to die a natural death and fade away. Focus on the next game. Win it. Don’t get behind early. Unfortunately, things like that happen. A lot of things, far more important than a football match, get botched by the incompetence of others. That, is Life. Rise above it and go on. In sport-speak, the great teams win in spite of things like that. The US team needs to stop getting behind and show the world they’re a better team, if that’s indeed true. Get the defensive stops, get goals.

The great John Stockton once said something like not letting it bother you and play your own game. It was the aftermath of some horrid game in which the officiating seemed to have been bought and people all over the Valley were calling for the refs’ heads. He never did get his championship but he remains one of the sports figures I will always admire the most.

US soccer fans and the team, let it die and look on to the next match. It won’t get any easier.

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