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Leagues: MLS

Superliga Final : Howard Webb and the Match

The ultimate grudge match in North American football continued tonight as Houston and New England faced off in a major cup final for the third time in as many years. However this match is different in two ways from the get go: Instead of a CONCACAF based official we have an infamous English one in Howard Webb fresh off his strange penalty call that sunk Poland at the Euros and this game is being held at a home stadium of one of the teams, Gillette Stadium home of the Revs. That was ultimately the difference as New England prevailed on PKs.

Officiating has been such an issue in this tournament and I don’t want to overblow it yet again, but if Howard Webb was available to do this tournament why did SUM wait until the final to call him in? Mexican fans have made a cottage industry of beating up on Central American officials and having Webb, an Englishman unknown to most Mexican fans and media may have buffered the tournament against some of the criticism it is facing south of the border.

Some other thoughts:

  • I was stunned how poorly New England played in the first thirty minutes and Houston despite Nate Jaqua’s goal on Amaechi Igwe’s mistake should have scored at least one maybe two more goals in the first thirty minutes.
  • For all Sainey Nyassi’s brilliance on the ball wide, his crosses have gotten worse and worse as the season wears on and he unlike his left sided counterparts Maurico Castro and Khano Smith seems to lack ideas in the final third.
  • Speaking of Castro, his ball to Ralston and the finish was one of the most brilliant plays all year by an MLS side. The imagination of Castro and the finishing of Ralston were superb.
  • For the second straight season, Houston appears to have brought in a player from within MLS that helps them up front: this time it is Kei Kamara whose finishing eluded him in San Jose but suddenly looks deadly and creative in Houston. Kamara is a quality player and like Joseph Ngwenya a year ago, Frank Yallop’s philosophy didn’t agree with his traits as a player.
  • Steve Ralston and Shalrie Joseph did not have the usual command of the midfield but came up big when it counted, on yet another set piece.
  • Cory Ashe despite missing the last PK made a huge impact on the match upon his entry really putting the Revs on their heels.
  • Matt Reis had some shaky moments but also saved the Revs in regular time from losing out.
  • It’s great to see Bob Kraft at the match where his other team finally accomplishes what his NFL team has.
  • It was a great final to a controversial tournament, but with these two teams we knew the football would be good.
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  1. Safety120

    August 6, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    The sky is falling, The sky is falling. I’m sorry, I meant MLS is gonna collapse because of a meaningless fixture.

    All you doom-sayers can go back to the barn and sit bury your heads with Chicken Little.

    The sky is falling……

  2. Joe

    August 6, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Garber must learn his words have consequences. He may be legally correct but taking his fight against the players into the public arena with his biting bitter comments the other day only made this showdown possible.

    Did you notice Reis parading around with Onstad’s shirt on turning his back to Garber? Classic!

  3. Berlin

    August 6, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Brilliant match played for a little more than $1,000 a player. I wonder if the rules would have been different if LA or DC had made the deal with its players? It’s still 1/2 AEG, give the Dynamo a break. Coverage went out in Houston before the PKs so I had to catch the end on the radio. Credit to the teams, too bad the game was only on Spanish language TV, no network = no payday. Simple as that.

  4. JXY

    August 6, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Garber’s tenure is rapidly unraveling. Out of control expansion including charging prospective owners 5 times what TFC’s owners were charged, these SUM events, fixture congestion and AEG’s control of stadium revenue is sinking MLS. Things were so much better a year ago before the greed set in.

  5. John. Harris

    August 6, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Great match, and a great show by the Revs coming back from disaster after Kei’s great goal.

    Well played all around!

  6. LZ

    August 6, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Great show last night both on the field during the match and after in a unified show against Garber and SUMs greed and corruption of MLS.

    Things are coming to a head. The players are tired of being manipulated while big $$$$$ owners collect on these tournaments. A new day is coming.

  7. Phillip

    August 6, 2008 at 8:46 am

    I did like the fact that the players were unified after the match and refused to go to Garber to accept their medals. The look on Garber’s face when Ralston came running over and yanked the trophy out of his hand was classic.

    I’m not even sure if the players received their medals post game. There definitely wasn’t a photo opportunity for Garber.

    MLS Players are united against the corrupt organization that is MLS.

  8. Phillip

    August 6, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Webb wasn’t that good regardless. He missed two blatant penalties.

  9. Ian

    August 6, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Surprisingly enough, Howard Webb showed his skill as an official making sure the flow of the game wasn’t interrupted. From my vantage point Webb’s bad reputation was created by whining Fergie anyhow. He really isn’t a bad official and since he officiated the final of Superliga, the event looks more legit.

  10. Roger

    August 5, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    A great match tonight, but any explanation why Reis took a PK so early in the shootout?

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