The Washington Post

Here’s why Matt Besler is suspended …

Matt Besler will not play for the U.S. national team against Mexico on Tuesday in a World Cup qualifier at Columbus Crew Stadium. He received a second yellow card of the cycle late in Friday’s match at Costa Rica. Seems straight-forward enough.

But here is why he was penalized (skip ahead to 5:38):

The Tico culprit was forward Joel Campbell, who, moments earlier, scorched Besler for the clinching goal in the 3-1 victory. (A cynical, snarky observer would say Besler should have been penalized by Juergen Klinsmann for his poor defending on the goal.)

Referee Marco Rodriguez did not see the incident and relied on an assistant for information. To Rodriguez’s credit, he had ignored two Costa Rican pleas for penalties in the first half and awarded a legitimate PK to the United States earlier in the match.

So the fault here lies with the Mexican linesman — and with Campbell, who, in an otherwise impressive display, gave another black eye to FIFA’s fair play initiative.

Now, before the U.S. Soccer Federation calls for Campbell’s lifetime ban, let’s be real here: Players, including Americans, flop all the time. But in this case, there is no gray area or issues of retaliation. And because of Campbell’s act and the linesman’s judgement, the Americans will be without a starting center back for Tuesday’s massive match.


Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.



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Steven Goff · September 9, 2013