I was really glad to see that Marco Rodriguez, Mexico, got the nod to work the England vs. Paraguay match. I thought he did a fine job putting his authority on the game. Halfway through the first half with Paraguay a goal down and England pressing, things were getting a little chipy. Two yellow cards, Steven Gerrard (ENG) 19′ and Nelson Valdez (PAR) 22′, put done to that kind of play. I think both teams realized what the limits would be at that point work worked with it from there on out. I didn’t really see the reason for the Crouch (ENG) yellow in the ’63. It was consistent with the fact that Crouch had been called quite a few times for using his arms but I think he was getting undercut by the shorter defenders. It was an unlucky card. Over all the officiating was fine. England looked weak in the second half but Paraguay didn’t pick it up enough to challenge the result. I really can’t see Paraguay beating Sweden, we’ll see.
Shamsul Maidin, Singapore, got the match the everyone figured would be a walk, Trinidad and Tobago vs. Sweden. T&T wasn’t supposed to be able to play with Sweden. Then their number one keeper gets hurt during the warm-up and the 37 year old back-up keeper gets put in with little warm up. THEN they have to play almost a full half down a man. John Avery (TRN) picked up his first yellow card ’15 and his second ’46, both cards well deserved. John Harks, the ABC color man, didn’t seem to think the second foul warranted a yellow. I’m sure that if he or a team mate had been on the receiving end of that tackle he would think differently.
The card to Dwight Yorke ’75 was also well deserved. With the score still at 0-0 and Sweden pushing to score, Yorke steped in front of a free kick while Sweden was trying to do a quick kick. Maidin was quick to the scene and cautioned Yorke. Within the next minute Maidin also had to have a talk with the T&T keeper Hislop, for time wasting. I was kind of suprised that there was only 3 mins of added time in the second half, when there had been 4 in the first half. The second half had more substitutions and a few injuries. I was thinking at least 4-5 minutes. I’m not sure if the added time would have helped Sweden. In last 10 minutes of the game they were obviously frustrated and T&T were playing for the 0-0 tie. At the end of the game you would have thought that Sweden had just lost the match by the reaction of the Swedish and T&T fans. Everyone expected a Sweden win, even the T&T fans, so a 0-0 final was a victory for T&T. It now looks like England will finish the group at #1 with #2 open for anyone, this should be fun.