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Talking about those controversial penalty kick decision in Los Angeles

Jul 6, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT

Keane head shot

Individually, you could probably argue that Robbie Keane was fouled in stoppage time Thursday, as Columbus’ one-goal lead in Southern California evaporated behind two late spot shots from the Galaxy’s Irish international striker. The Galaxy won, 2-1.

But in all honesty, most referees are not going to make that call. Not seven minutes after awarding an equalizing penalty kick. Generally speaking, the standard for what constitutes a penalty kick is elevated for a team once the first one is whistled.

So when referee Sorin Stoica pointed to the spot for Los Angeles in the 85th minute, you might have felt a little badly for Columbus. But Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum did trip Jose Villarreal, so the call was correct.

But the “foul” that felled Keane two minutes into stoppage time? No … the Galaxy were absolutely handed a lifeline on that one.

As he waited and watched for Colin Clark’s cross, Keane crumbled when he felt contact from Crew defender Bernardo Anor. “If someone runs into the back of you, the fact is you’re going to fall over,” he said afterward.

Even if you disagree that the standard should rise a bit after a referee awards one penalty kick – and it’s a good argument to make, that a foul is a foul is a foul … I’m just saying that generally speaking, that’s what happens – the second PK should never have been blown. Stoica simply has to be better there. He must recognize the difference between a legitimate foul that prevents a goal scoring opportunity and a wise old hand gambling that a pretty lousy bit of embellishment will fool the referee. In this case, it certainly did.

“He’s smart,” Anor said, referring to Keane. “He was waiting for a tiny touch for him to go down. He was fortunate to get the call. It’s the referee’s call, and we can do nothing about that.”

Here are the two instances, both toward the end of the highlight pack:


  1. socamr - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Keane has decided to challenge Lenhart as the biggest PK flopper in MLS…

  2. phredicles - Jul 6, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    The sad thing from the Crew’s point of view is that, if they’d left it up to the Galaxy to score from the run of play, I don’t see how it was going to happen. Zardes ought to be working on his finishing in the reserve leagues, and Keane has developed cold feet about shooting from anywhere but the penalty spot.

    I’ll cheerfully take the three points, but the Gs can’t count on the refs to go on being so accommodating. They desperately need someone who wants to shoot, someone with confidence. You know, someone like a Mike Magee.

  3. talgrath - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    I personally don’t see any reason for Keane to get the penalty call on the second one; at worst that was an unintentional shove, to me it just looked like he put his hands out to make sure he didn’t crash into Keane, either way he’s obviously selling it.

  4. lunasceiling - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    The first PK can be argued either way…but the second was complete garbage. Minimal contact, and Keane goes down like he’d been hit by sniper fire. Could easily have been a yellow for simulation…and instead the Galaxy get handed three points they didn’t earn. I was watching this live and rolled my eyes so hard I almost pulled a muscle.

    • joeyt360 - Jul 7, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      The first one’s pretty obvious (and for some special sauce, there’s a missed penalty-worthy infraction one second before when Columbus #7 wiped out LA #8).

      On the second, Keane made a meal out of nothing. Interestingly, it’s the same guy, Anor, #7, that was unfairly called on this one, who should have been whistled on the first.

      • joeyt360 - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:17 PM

        And I was going to add to that, that fwiw Columbus’s goal was a bit of a fluke. I look back to see who scored it. . . Anor! Bizarre night for him, so lucky and so unlucky in the same game.

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