Block Title One

VAR gave Japan the most controversial World Cup goal, and it knocked out Germany


Japan scored the most controversial goal of the World Cup thanks to VAR.

Japan’s stay in the 2022 World Cup seemed to be over while it played its final game in Group E against Spain. With Germany on its way to victory over Costa Rica, Japan had to beat Spain otherwise the Germans were set to be the other team in the group to advance despite the fact that Japan had upset Germany in their opener in Qatar.

Things looked grim for Japan when Spain took a one goal lead at the half, while Germany raced to a big lead against Costa Rica. Japan opened the second half in attack mode with fresh substitutes in the lineup, and ultimately scored two goals to beat Spain, 2-1, and win the group to advance to the knockout round. Spain also advanced, while Germany was stunned to be sent home packing.

Japan’s win came on the most controversial play of the World Cup so far. After Ritsu Doan scored in the 48th minute to tie the score, Japan found itself with a scoring chance again. Kaoru Mitoma raced to save a ball from going out of bounds behind the net, and hit a pass to teammate Ao Tanaka to banged it home for the go-ahead goal. Only one problem: the refs judged that the ball had gone out before Mitomo crossed it. While the replays seemed to show the ball was out, VAR reversed the call and gave Japan the deciding goal.

Watch video here:

Was the ball in or out before Japan got to it? It depends what angle you look at.

The rule says the entirety of the ball needs to be out of bounds for the ball to be out. VAR said just a sliver of the ball remained in, and therefore allowed Japan’s goal after a lengthy review. Here’s the best look at it:

The broadcast was stunned at the decision after the game.

Making Japan’s win even more improbable is that they barely controlled possession the entire game. Japan had the ball just 17.7 percent of the time, makes marks the lowest possession figure for a team that has ever won a men’s World Cup game.

If that ball was ruled out, Germany would be moving on to the knockout round and Japan would be going home. Instead, Germany’s heartbreak is Japan’s jubilation.

Christian Pulisic injury: Tracking the USMNT star’s status for the round of 16

IR Iran v USA: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images

USMNT star suffered a “pelvic contusion” while scoring the game-winning goal and is now questionable for the Round of 16.

Late in the first half of Tuesday’ do-or-die match against Iran, Christian Pulisic came through for the United States, scoring one of the the most important goals in USMNT history as he put a pass from Sergiño Dest past Iranian keeper Alireza Beiranvand to give the United States a 1-0 lead.

But instead of wheeling away in celebration, Pulisic remained down on the turf, having crashed into Beiranvand in the effort. Pulisic was eventually helped off by trainers, and did return to the match, but was subbed off before the second half began.

The United States survived a frenzied second half, and over nine minutes of stoppage time, preserving the one-goal victory to put them through to the knockout stage of the World Cup. Their reward for the effort? A date with the Netherlands on Saturday.

Now they await word on Pulisic’s status for that match.

Post-match updates

The USMNT released a quick update on Pulisic on Tuesday evening, indicating that he was “day-to-day” with a pelvic contusion:

A USMNT spokesperson did clarify that Pulisic was already back at the team hotel following a visit to the hospital. On Tuesday night USMNT social media team posted a video of players returning to the team hotel, and receiving a warm welcome for supporters, and Pulisic himself:

The match against Iran and the injury

Here is another look at Pulisic’s effort, as he put his body on the line for the go-ahead goal:

This series of images puts into context just what Pulisic did to see the United States through to the round of 16:

It was Pulisic’s first World Cup goal, and one that will live on in USMNT lore. But it might have come at a steep price, as Pulisic needed to be removed from the match before the second half, after making a short attempt at returning to the pitch:

His injury was termed an “abdominal injury” by the USMNT at the time of the substitution:

According to Kevin Baxter, who covers soccer for the Los Angeles Times, the USMNT star was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation of his abdominal injury:

According to Jenny Taft, who is covering the World Cup for Fox Sports, Pulisic FaceTimed the team from the hospital:

The United States squares off with the Netherlands at 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday.

This story will be updated as updates to Pulisic’s condition become available.

VAR gave Japan the most controversial World Cup goal, and it knocked out Germany


Japan scored the most controversial goal of the World Cup thanks to VAR.

Japan’s stay in the 2022 World Cup seemed to be over while it played its final game in Group E against Spain. With Germany on its way to victory over Costa Rica, Japan had to beat Spain otherwise the Germans were set to be the other team in the group to advance despite the fact that Japan had upset Germany in their opener in Qatar.

Things looked grim for Japan when Spain took a one goal lead at the half, while Germany raced to a big lead against Costa Rica. Japan opened the second half in attack mode with fresh substitutes in the lineup, and ultimately scored two goals to beat Spain, 2-1, and win the group to advance to the knockout round. Spain also advanced, while Germany was stunned to be sent home packing.

Japan’s win came on the most controversial play of the World Cup so far. After Ritsu Doan scored in the 48th minute to tie the score, Japan found itself with a scoring chance again. Kaoru Mitoma raced to save a ball from going out of bounds behind the net, and hit a pass to teammate Ao Tanaka to banged it home for the go-ahead goal. Only one problem: the refs judged that the ball had gone out before Mitomo crossed it. While the replays seemed to show the ball was out, VAR reversed the call and gave Japan the deciding goal.

Watch video here:

Was the ball in or out before Japan got to it? It depends what angle you look at.

The rule says the entirety of the ball needs to be out of bounds for the ball to be out. VAR said just a sliver of the ball remained in, and therefore allowed Japan’s goal after a lengthy review. Here’s the best look at it:

The broadcast was stunned at the decision after the game.

Making Japan’s win even more improbable is that they barely controlled possession the entire game. Japan had the ball just 17.7 percent of the time, makes marks the lowest possession figure for a team that has ever won a men’s World Cup game.

If that ball was ruled out, Germany would be moving on to the knockout round and Japan would be going home. Instead, Germany’s heartbreak is Japan’s jubilation.

Christian Pulisic injury: Tracking the USMNT star’s status for the round of 16

Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images

USMNT star suffered a “pelvic contusion” while scoring the game-winning goal and is now questionable for the Round of 16.

Late in the first half of Tuesday’ do-or-die match against Iran, Christian Pulisic came through for the United States, scoring one of the the most important goals in USMNT history as he put a pass from Sergiño Dest past Iranian keeper Alireza Beiranvand to give the United States a 1-0 lead.

But instead of wheeling away in celebration, Pulisic remained down on the turf, having crashed into Beiranvand in the effort. Pulisic was eventually helped off by trainers, and did return to the match, but was subbed off before the second half began.

The United States survived a frenzied second half, and over nine minutes of stoppage time, preserving the one-goal victory to put them through to the knockout stage of the World Cup. Their reward for the effort? A date with the Netherlands on Saturday.

Now they await word on Pulisic’s status for that match.

Post-match updates

The USMNT released a quick update on Pulisic on Tuesday evening, indicating that he was “day-to-day” with a pelvic contusion:

A USMNT spokesperson did clarify that Pulisic was already back at the team hotel following a visit to the hospital. On Tuesday night USMNT social media team posted a video of players returning to the team hotel, and receiving a warm welcome for supporters, and Pulisic himself:

The match against Iran and the injury

Here is another look at Pulisic’s effort, as he put his body on the line for the go-ahead goal:

This series of images puts into context just what Pulisic did to see the United States through to the round of 16:

It was Pulisic’s first World Cup goal, and one that will live on in USMNT lore. But it might have come at a steep price, as Pulisic needed to be removed from the match before the second half, after making a short attempt at returning to the pitch:

His injury was termed an “abdominal injury” by the USMNT at the time of the substitution:

According to Kevin Baxter, who covers soccer for the Los Angeles Times, the USMNT star was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation of his abdominal injury:

According to Jenny Taft, who is covering the World Cup for Fox Sports, Pulisic FaceTimed the team from the hospital:

The United States squares off with the Netherlands at 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday.

This story will be updated as updates to Pulisic’s condition become available.

Christian Pulisic stepped up when the USMNT needed him most

Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images

The U.S. star gave up his body to score in a must-win game.

The United States men’s national team is through to the Round of 16 at the World Cup and it was their highest-profile player who scored the goal to get them there. Giving up his body and potentially sacrificing the rest of his tournament in the process, Christian Pulisic has secured his spot in USMNT folklore with his heroics in the 1-0 win over Iran.

While the rest of his teammates were jubilantly celebrating their qualification for the knockout rounds, the American star was on his way to the hospital after suffering an abdominal injury flinging himself at the ball to score the game’s only goal.

Dubbed the golden child of American soccer since he was 16 years old, this moment was a culmination of hard work and destiny. Trials and tribulations were plenty along the way. His crumpled body was the emblematic image of the USA’s failures in the last World Cup cycle, but now he’s responsible for the biggest moment of the team’s run in Qatar so far.

Even after setting up the only goal in the 1-1 draw with Wales in the opening group match, Pulisic was drawing criticism for not being more influential in the team’s attack. It’s not rare for the forward to be put under the microscope by critics. He is a constant magnet for judgment on both the club and international levels. While his consistency to produce can be debated, it’s becoming more and more clear that Pulisic has a knack for showing up when it matters most.

Flying toward goal and giving up his body to score the winner against Iran is just the latest moment of heroics he’s displayed in important matches. It was Pulisic’s penalty kick against Mexico in the Nations League final last year that won them that competition. It’s also easy to forget that he scored a crucial goal in the Trinidad & Tobago match in Couva that gave the U.S. a chance to get back in the match the ultimately fell short. When the U.S. need a moment of magic on the big occasion, Pulisic has lived up to the massive and sometimes unreasonable expectations placed onto him.

Comparisons to Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey as the USMNT’s best-ever player have followed Pulisic his whole career. It’s these types of moments where the national team need their star players to make an impact. Donovan had his storybook moments in 2002 and the famous goal against Algeria in 2010. Dempsey is the only American male to score in three different World Cups. This was Pulisic’s first big moment on the biggest stage but it was one that puts him on the level with those two great players with plenty of time to surpass them.

No one knows what the future holds for Christian Pulisic both in the long-term of his career and as it to relates to this World Cup as he’s being evaluated for an injury. But one thing is becoming pretty clear, if there’s a big moment the U.S. needs a star player to step up, he is willing and able to do whatever it takes to make sure that player is him.

USMNT must find way to score if they are to advance in World Cup

Photo by Hector Vivas – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Americans effectively starting knockout rounds a little early with must-win match against Iran.

The United States men’s national team enters its final group stage match at the World Cup against Iran with only a win being good enough to take them through to the Round of 16. This is a familiar situation for the Americans as it was the exact same scenario they faced in 2010 when Landon Donovan scored an iconic last-second goal to secure the victory.

Unlike that famous day, the U.S. will be facing a side that likely only needs a draw — assuming Wales doesn’t get a shock win over England — to earn second place in the group. Commonsense tells us that Iran will likely implement an extremely conservative game plan in hopes of limiting their exposure on defense.

For the USA, this could be bad news for an already sputtering attack with a history of struggling to break down teams who play this style of soccer.

The phrase “parking the bus” in soccer is looked at in a negative connotation as it signal a team’s intent to only focus on not conceding a goal rather than attempting to score one. However, despite it being frowned upon by, it’s quite an effective measure for teams who are able to withstand the pressure. Iran manager Carlos Queiroz is an experienced and well-traveled manager who undoubtedly isn’t afraid to pull out this tactic if he thinks it gives his side the best chance at reaching the knockout stage of a World Cup.

In seven of their last 10 matches in World Cup qualifying, Iran won and kept a clean sheet in the process. It’s clear that they are more than capable of defending in an organized manner. This is something Gregg Berhalter’s team has struggled mightily with in qualifying, especially when matches aren’t played on home soil. During the Concacaf qualifying cycle the U.S. were shutout five times in seven matches away from home. The fact that the Americans must score a goal to earn advancement in the tournament has to be a point of worry.

Despite the numbers and possibility of facing a conservative opponent, USA captain Tyler Adams isn’t expecting Iran to simply go all defense.

“Watching Iran’s last game, I would not expect them to do that, because they went after the game and they were looking for three points. You could tell from the mentality of the group they were attacking, counter-attacking, doing everything they needed to do, fighting in every single duel, tackles. Every single moment of the game looked like it could be their moment to score a goal. So I’m not expecting them to do that. We know that it’s a knockout game. And of course we have to attack. I mean, I’m not the coach of their team, so I’m not exactly sure what they’re going to do, but based off of last game I’m expecting them to come after it.” — Tyler Adams speaking at the USA vs. Iran pre-match press conference

With just one goal in the opening two matches of the World Cup, the onus is on Berhalter to find the right lineup combination to unlock what will surely be a stout Iran defense. One possible option that many outside observers have clamored for is the inclusion of Giovanni Reyna. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has a knack for breaking down defenses either with his playmaking passing abilities or on the dribble. Reyna has only amassed seven total minutes off the bench despite his immense talent. Could this be his time to finally make the difference from the opening kickoff? If he’s not included and the U.S. continue to struggle to create and score goals, major questions will be asked of Berhalter’s selection process.

No matter how the USMNT sets the lineup to score goals, the pressure is clearly on them to get the job done. They will be facing a team with a history of playing tight, low-scoring games with a mentality that keeping a clean sheet is enough to see them advance. Can they find the right formula to break through the Iran defense and put up a goal or two? If they can’t, their tournament will be over.

Alabama beat North Carolina in the sloppiest 4 OT game imaginable


North Carolina vs. Alabama was a comedy of errors for four overtimes.

North Carolina and Alabama are supposed to be two of the better teams in the country this year in men’s college basketball. Four overtime games are supposed to be thrilling. Neither of those things felt like they were true on Sunday night when the Tar Heels and the Crimson Tide played an error-filled four OT game at the Phil Knight Invitational, better known as the PK 85.

Alabama beat UNC, 103-101, after four overtimes to give the Tide their first win over the top ranked team in the polls since 2004. It was the second straight loss for North Carolina, who were also defeated by unranked Iowa State in this same tournament on Friday. While it wouldn’t really be a surprise to see these two teams matchup in the second or even third weekend of the NCAA tournament come March, the level of play in clutch situations was lacking from both sides before Alabama mercifully took home the win.

Alabama took the lead in the final minute of overtime No. 4 on a beautiful Spain pick-and-roll that led to point guard Jahvon Quinerly hitting big man Charles Bediako for a layup. A weird game got even weirder after that. UNC appeared to take the lead on this floater by Caleb Love, but the refs reviewed their goaltending call and said it was a clean block. Alabama got the ball back because the possession arrow was going their way.

Alabama then proceeded to turn on the ball over on the ensuing inbounds pass:

UNC got the ball back down one with 8.3 seconds left, but the Tar Heels decided to turn it over themselves on the inbounds pass.

UNC fouled, Bama split its free throws, and the Tar Heels missed one last heave to win the game.

The end of the third overtime wasn’t any prettier. In a tie game with three seconds left, Alabama turned it over on the inbounds pass.

UNC was actually able to inbound the ball successfully — a true accomplishment in this game — but their final possession of the third overtime wasn’t much prettier.

Double overtime also ended on a poor offensive possession, when Quinerly was stuffed by Pete Nance on the potential game-winning layup attempt.

People watching were not impressed.

It’s important to remember that even the top teams in college hoops are still a work in progress in November. UNC went to the national title game last year and was preseason No. 1 in every poll. Nate Oats has built a nice program at Alabama, and has a team that should be a factor all season in the SEC. The late game execution will be much better for both of these teams a few months from now.

Alabama is thrilled with the win even without any style points. Carolina feels like they have work to do after consecutive losses. Hubert Davis agrees.

There will be a new No. 1 in the polls next week. The level of play will only go up from here.

Exit mobile version