Friends, there are rules in all sports that cause consternation in all sports. Baseball has its balk; football (and pretty Tom Brady) brought the 'tuck rule' into the lexicon after decades of lying dormant; basketball has a few rules that are so arbitrarily called that one wonders what to do with them. But if you aren't familiar with soccer, you might not know just how fucking confusing and random the Offsides rule is as currently officiated.
The main clause is simple enough--on offense, a player receiving the ball must have, at the time of the pass, two defenders equal or ahead of him. One of those defenders is almost always the goalkeeper. So, essentially, if a striker can time his or her run so that s/he is equal with the last defender as the ball is played, he's onsides.
But there are exceptions, and one of the biggest is that the player has to be active in the play. If you are sitting by a corner flag, having a smoke and pissing on one knee out the bottom of your shorts, you can be totally offsides--you aren't participating in the play. One of the other biggest exceptions is this: if you knock a ball forward, and it bounces off a defender, and then rolls to a teammate, that player is offsides only if he was offsides when the ball was played. If he was onside when the ball was kicked, but offisides when the defender stupidly knocked it to him, it is considered a defensive backpass, and he's onside. And his goal counts.
So, when this exact scenario played out in the last fucking seconds of the US win against Canada, the game should have been tied, and it should have gone to Overtime, where the Americans would have been in trouble--losing Coach's Son Michael Bradley to a pretty bullshit Red Card, they would have played a man down after giving up 2 straight goals.
You can tell that the Americans know they got lucky, and the Canadians know they were screwed. Compare the quotes:
"If one of their players played the ball back, it's a back pass and it cannot be offsides. That's how I saw it."
"It was definitely a goal. No question,"
"I don't think it matters what I thought...The call was offsides."
"The linesman made the call, so it's offsides."
Hear the difference? Oneywu, the physically impressive defender for the US who still manages to confound and anger those of us who have played the position with basic fuck-ups, continued his streak, being the man who headed the ball right to the Canadian striker. The goal didn't count, but the fuck up did. I'm getting close to petitioning for the return of either: Eddie Pope, Carlos Llamosa, or Thomas Dooley.
It should be noted that the US goals weren't super impressive. Hejduk form's was screwy and it was his first goal in 6 years. Beasley's penalty wasn't very penalty ish and Donovan's kick was even less so. Nevertheless, the US has beaten the team I now have to consider the 2nd best team in the Cup.
Why? Because Mexico has fucking sucked the root. Mexico couldn't finish a taco. Mexico couldn't score in a bucket of fannies. Steve Ralston looks at Mexico and says, "Those guys need lessons from me on how to finish."
Mexico, throughout this tournament has looked at times too old, too young, too ragged, too cheap, too pussified to win a game. They've won, but only barely. They needed to fake a red card offense against Costa Rica to get a 3 man advantage, against a team that had already shown itself to be quite dirty. And tonight, they barely squeaked by Guadelope, a country that isn't even a country!
I've seen enough of Mexico and the US to say that if both teams bring their best games, US wins 3-nil. Don't be surprised if Dempsey has a brace. The Canadians that the US barely beat would have buried this Mexico team. The Final should highlight the fact that the best teams in the CONCACAF are north of the Rio Grande.
And for those wondering why Kasey Keller was playing this game, when the torch in net has been passed to Timmy! Howard--the answer is simple. 100 Caps!