Kurt Austin Soccer City Scarf

Live from SA: Seeing a Called-Back Goal

For a fan, it has to be one of the most surreal feelings in soccer. That moment that turns unbridled joy into dejection and disappointment. The say-it-ain’t-so realization that the goal you’ve hoped and prayed for, that you’ve watched with your own unbelieving eyes, that you’ve celebrated like it’s the happiest moment of your life, has been disallowed.

Wizards fans can certainly relate. Already this season, KC has seen more than it’s fair share of these thought-to-be goals: Matt Besler vs. DC, Kei Kamara vs. LA, and Davy Arnaud vs. Chicago all come to mind (you never quite erase the painful memories of these things).

Needless to say, the 180-degree emotional recoil is never easy, but I assure you it’s even worse at a world cup where whistles are impossible to hear and the heartbreak comes that much later. Trust me, I’ve now experienced it twice thanks to Koman Coulibaly nullifying the USA’s go ahead goal on Friday against Slovenia.

The first time came four years ago in the epic clash with Italy in Kaiserslautern, Germany. DeMarcus Beasley’s goal appeared to give the nine-man US squad an improbable 2-1 lead over the eventual champions, only to be called back for Brian McBride’s offside position.

Though controversial in its own right, that one paled in comparison to Friday’s dubious decision. As a referee myself, I’m prone to pass judgment. Then I read the thoughts of former FIFA referee Ed Bellion:

“Overall, this was by far the poorest performance in this World Cup, and one of the poorest I have seen in watching World Cups in detail, since 1982...”

That pretty much sums it up. I would also recommend reading Kansas City’s Joe Posnanski on his take of the call and what it means in the bigger picture of the casual sports fan.

Alas, even that blemish can’t take away from what was one of the greatest games of the 2010 World Cup, which I got to see 12 rows up on the endline where all four and a half goals were scored. The Americans in attendance, which reportedly included co-chairman of the Kansas City/USA Host City Bid Committee Clark Hunt, and the American tv audience, said to be the largest ever for an ESPN soccer telecast, got to see a scintillating display of soccer.

And for us Wizards supporters, an especially rewarding bonus came in the 80th minute when former Kansas Citian Herculez Gomez made his World Cup debut. His supporting run into space cleared the path for Michael Bradley’s exhilarating equalizer and continued his remarkable run in 2010.

Hope all the KC dads had a great Father’s Day on Sunday. I’ll be sending my pops a postcard from Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, site of Brazil vs. Ivory Coast. Wish you were here, old man!