In what should have been the Goal of the Week, Tranquillo Barnetta hit a game-winning free kick golazo in the 90th minute of the Union-Orlando match. PRO (the professional referee association) has reviewed the kick and has deemed it shouldn’t have been allowed due to the Union wall supposedly obstructing the view of Orlando keeper Joe Bendik.
I’m not going to argue for or against this; I can see both sides. I can see that the wall both doesn’t get onsides before the kick and that it MAY have obstructed Bendik’s view of the ball. I can also see at least one angle (one from directly behind Barnetta) that shows Bendik has a clear view of the ball as it’s kicked. That’s not why this is being written.
No, this is being written because the Union don’t get calls like this, mainly because in years past, they didn’t put themselves in position to get calls like this. The old saying goes that you make your own luck, and it’s true in soccer. The proper circumstances have to be in place in order for that to happen. A penalty cannot be called if there’s not action in the final third, for example; if you’re not possessing the ball and moving it around and putting pressure on their back line and keeper, you’re not going to force people to be desperate enough to foul you, or to appear to foul you.
Think about the Real Salt Lake match played in Rio Tinto last year. The Union were up 3-2 late when RSL drew a very fortunate penalty on a challenge RSL man Luke Mulholland said wasn’t worthy of a penalty. RSL converted the penalty and the match ended up drawn, but that never happens if RSL isn’t in the box pressuring late. They put themselves in the position to be the beneficiary of a call. Now the Union are doing that and may have gotten away with one.
It’s a new day in Philadelphia; this is a new Union side we’re seeing, one seemingly capable of great things, up to and including creating a little luck and getting a little help from the officials.