and clearly across the goal line, too -- before he quickly turned to desperately swat the ball out of the area.
As a former goalkeeper, Columbus Crew head coach Greg Andrulis was surprised to see such a horrid display.
"I'm not sure what he was thinking," he said, "but his touch certainly let him down."
"It was quite funny to watch, to be honest with you," added D.C. United goalkeeper Troy Perkins. "In a way, it kind of sums up the way Roy Carroll and Tim Howard have played this year. They have been spectacular at times, but often having mental lapses when there is no pressure on them to make a simple play."
Every coach in the world has to love that this happened. And, no, I'm not saying this because it happened to a player on a superclub that is either loved or loathed, much like the Yankees, Donald Trump and Nike are all over the globe. But rather because there will now always be a perfect example to use when teaching goalkeepers about techniques on catching and what can happen when there's a concentration lapse.
Same goes for the attacking players. After seeing Carroll's awkward play, how many blood-thirsty strikers around the world will be looking to chip the keeper in similar situations over the next few weeks?
This isn't to say that similar incidents haven't happened before. They have. Many, many times, too. This one just happened to come during a midweek spotlight match in the top league in the world that was shown all over the world, including the United States. Unlike what might have happened three or four years ago, the age of TiVo has allowed us to dissect Carroll's mishap over and over on our own time, which is exactly what Dallas Burn goalkeeper Scott Garlick did earlier this week.
"My first impression was that I think Roy Carroll did a great job of making as if the ball had never crossed the line," said Garlick. "I know that probably sounds trivial, but rather than sulk or get mad, he just got on with it and convinced the linesman that his first impression was correct."
That is a point that has been lost a bit in the aftermath of Tuesday's match. It's hard to imagine seeing a goalkeeper moving any quicker than Carroll did after he frantically dove back to swat at the ball. His lightning-fast jab appeared quicker than anything Roy Jones has ever thrown.
Garlick said that he didn't feel sorry for Carroll, and usually doesn't when he sees a fellow goalkeeper -- aren't they all in a fraternity or something? -- make such a blunder.
"To me, feeling sorry implies something tragic or sad has happened," Garlick said. "When in reality, he just made a simple mistake, which had been made all over the field all night. But because he is a goalkeeper, those are highlighted and frankly overblown."
He makes a good point. Yet, at the same time, all goalkeepers have been there, whether it was during a match seen by millions around the world or in a U.S. semipro league seen only by local kids and family members.
Garlick can remember quite an embarrassing moment that happened while playing for the Carolina Dynamo of the old USISL Select League. After he called for a pass to be played back to him from a defender, the ball shot up in the air. Like Carroll, Garlick quickly backpedaled to his line in time to block the goal, but wasn't able to use his hands since the ball came from his own player. He quickly decided to head the ball, hoping to knock it up behind him over the crossbar.
"Well, you can probably guess where I headed it and who picked it out of the net," said Garlick. "Needless to say, Alan Dicks, our coach was not very happy."
In a way, Carroll would have gotten off easier had he done something similar. At least it would have been chalked up as a huge mistake and the fervor would have died down a bit ... well, everywhere outside of Manchester. But since it was a controversially non-call, his blunder has now set off a virtual worldwide debate about whether a goal judge should be used or if they should utilize video replays.
"Clear absolute goal, I'm not sure how it was missed except for the location of the assistant ref," said Andrulis. "A goal judge would hopefully solve that problem, but how to erase the aura of Old Trafford I'm not sure."
His last point is unsolvable. But, hey, that's a good thing for all the Tim Howard fans, isn't it?
As far as the goal judge goes, would it be such a travesty to devote one person -- a fifth official, perhaps - to only concern him or herself with goal line calls? Perhaps they could monitor excessive pushing on re-starts in front of the goal, as well. Maybe not in regular league play, but in competitions such as UEFA Cup, Euro, Champions League, World Cup qualifying and the World Cup.
While video replays and goal judges have slowed up both the NFL and NHL, it has righted many wrongs and has only enhanced the drama in some situations, like during the "Tuck Rule" game in the 2002 AFC Championship game between New England and Oakland. Waiting for the final ruling on Charles Woodson's sack of Tom Brady was like waiting to hear the nurse say whether it was a girl or a boy.
Garlick, for one, doesn't want instant replay, saying that human errors are part of the game.
"When you bring in video replay, you only bring in a new set of problems," he said. "Perfection or being absolute in decisions is impossible, even slowed down. Lastly, let's let the furor die down about this incident, take the emotion out of it, and we can talk about it again in a rational, calm way."
You got a deal.
Leave it to a goalkeeper to set us all straight.
Marc Connolly writes for ESPN.com and several other publications. This column runs each Wednesday on MLSnet.com and Marc can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.