Earlier tonight the US beat Uruguay 2-1 in extra time in an exciting second round match at the Under 20 Men’s World Cup. It would have been a lot more exciting if the Uruguayan team had focused on quality of play instead of alternating between diving throughout the match to draw fouls (and sadly receiving them) and trying to seriously injure US players.
After the game, one of the Uruguayan players comically complained to an interviewer that, roughly translated, “As always, it was stolen from us,” implying that the referees treated them unfairly. What was truly unfair is that Uruguay didn’t finish the match with only eight players on the field. While the referee did make a few bad calls that favored the US, he made far more bad calls that favored Uruguay. Vicious fouls by Uruguayans were regularly left unpunished. An Uruguayan blatantly kicked Adu’s legs out from under him in the penalty box while Adu had the ball, which should have led to a penalty kick, but the ref called nothing. Altidore had to leave the match with a calf injury after Caceres slid violently into the back of his legs. Caceres was furious that a foul was called, when he should have just been happy not to have been ejected with a straight red.
Worst of all was the classless display by the Uruguayan team after the match. While Michael Bradley, who had scored a beautiful game winning goal, was celebrating with his teammates, Cardaccio ran up to Bradley, spit in his face, tried to slap him, then turned and ran away like the gutless coward he proved himself to be. Then more Uruguayan players came over and tried to start fights. Finally, in the tunnel leading away from the field, an Uruguayan allegedly punched one of the volunteers.
Cardaccio had earlier distinguished himself by scoring an own goal (although, if he hadn’t lunged forward with his foot to barely reach Szetala’s shot/cross that was already headed on goal, Akpan would have slammed it home for the US). Cardaccio later head butted Szetela, yanked the front of his shirt, threw an elbow at his head, and then swung an open hand back into Szetela’s ear. The referee called nothing. Although the hits weren’t that hard, they still deserved a red card, as he intentionally swung at Szetela. Also, when the ref went to show a yellow card to another player, Cardaccio grabbed his hand and dragged it down. It’s hard to believe the ref didn’t give him a card, as well. Oh yeah, I forgot, the refs stole the game from Uruguay. Yeah, right. He finally received a long deserved yellow card in the 118th minute. I can only hope that FIFA reviews the tapes and gives Cardaccio an extremely long ban.
The thing is, there were significant stretches of the game where the Uruguayan team showed a lot of skill and outplayed an unusually out-of-sorts US team. While the US played much, much worse in this game than in their thrashing of Poland and convincing win over Brazil, the Uruguayans showed they really could play well. Too bad they don’t focus on that. I feel very sorry for the Uruguayan fans, who don’t deserve a team that behaves so poorly.