Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler is one of three US national team players suspended for the Americans’ showdown against Mexico on Tuesday for yellow-card accumulation, but did Besler really deserve that final, fateful caution?
Check out the video above and fast forward to the 5:38 mark. Footage of the incident that led to Besler’s card – a seemingly innocuous off-the-ball bump to Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell late in the Ticos’ 3-1 win over the US on Friday – shows that the call is a suspect one at best, and head referee Marco Rodriguez missed the incident entirely while focusing on play upfield.
Rodriguez instead relied on the account of his assistant referee, who evidently bought Campbell’s theatrics and advised that Besler be cautioned.
Is Campbell’s dive a crime? Hardly. It happens all the time in soccer, and the US players knew they were on thin ice heading into San Jose with nine players sitting on the brink of suspension and Rodriguez calling the shots. Three of them went down – Geoff Cameron, Jozy Altidore and of course Besler – and will miss Tuesday night’s match, but we’ll always wonder: Was this just gamesmanship, or a seriously blown call that could cost the US on Tuesday night?
As for an appeal, well, SI.com's Brian Straus has the bad news for USMNT fans.
For those asking about possible US protest: Per USSF, in CONCACAF no on-field decision can be protested except for mistaken identity.— Brian Straus (@BrianStraus) September 9, 2013