The Gold Cup Semifinal Became the Most CONCACAF Night Ever

What the hell did we watch last night? In the CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinals, first, the USMNT decided to lose (and deservedly so) to the 76th ranked team in the world Jamaica. Then we had a complete dumpster fire of a game between Panama and Mexico.

First, the USMNT/Jamaica game became quite the shock for American fans as the “Reggae Boys” shocked the Americans 2-1 to go to the Final. Jamaica took advantage of set pieces when Darren Mattocks headed in the first goal after a long throw in.

The controversy in the game came in the 35th minute as Brad Guzan handled the ball outside the box as he threw the ball out. His arm, with the ball in hand, extended outside the box and caused the ref to make the call. It’s something that doesn’t get called but that is within the rules so the call was made.

In the ensuing free kick, Giles Barnes scored to make it 2-0 Jamaica. As great as Guzan has been in this Gold Cup and he didn’t realize what he did was wrong because referees never call that sort of thing, it was still something stupid to tempt and especially interesting timing considering Tim Howard announced he’s back for the team.

After Michael Bradley scored to make it 2-1, it looked like the USMNT were going to complete the comeback, but it wasn’t meant to be. Jamaica held on to win 2-1 and dealt a big blow to the USMNT who looked like they needed a reality check.

That was only the beginning of the events to take place. The Mexico/Panama game would prove to be a very disappointing end to a soccer game and make us question the future of humanity all at the same time.

The 25th minute, Luis Tejada and Francisco Rodriguez went up for a ball which caused Tejada to shield Rodriguez but putting his hand in his face. The red card may have been a little harsh but putting your hands on the referee, in this case Mark Geiger, should be absolutely forbidden no matter how incompetent you believe the ref is. To be honest, after the call, Geiger probably could have sent a few Panama players off for putting their hands on him but that would’ve completely ended the game.

Even while up a man, Mexico still couldn’t take advantage and score. In all actuality, Panama shocked them and scored first. Roman Torres got the header off the corner and made it 1-0 in the second half. As it happened, things were being thrown from the stands onto the field. It would only be the beginning.

Then in the 89th minute, something that just about everyone predicted was going to happen happened and Mexico got a gift penalty to equalize late in the game. I don’t know, there’s just no way that’s a penalty but it caused even more delays as benches cleared and more things were thrown from the stands.

After a little over 10 minutes, Mexico finally scored and went to extra time. Another PK (this one was legit, albeit due to a blown offside call) made it 2-1 and Mexico advanced to the Final to face Jamaica.

That wasn’t the end as Panama players and coaches chased down Geiger and the referee crew right after the final whistle and it was very ugly for a few seconds. It capped off an ugly end to an ugly part of the game.

I for one praise Rob Stone for being rather emotional and emphatic in what went on. Stone is a fan like you or me and he was disgusted with what he saw. I know I felt the same way. I was embarrassed with the behavior I saw during the game and that happens far too often than it should. Stone broke away from the normal “host” duties and interjected himself into the conversation being horrified about what happened and it was great. He really gave a fan perspective during the post game show.

This was this morning’s cover of the Critica newspaper this morning in Panama. You don’t need to know Spanish to understand what’s being said there. I mean, I get why Panama is mad, I would be too. But let’s not think that Mark Geiger is being paid or wanted Mexico to win or anything like that because there’s a difference between corruption, incompetence and just plain making a mistake. In terms of Geiger, he falls in the incompetence/making mistake(s) section. He has his moments where he’s a great referee and then moments like last night.

So what should we do now? I don’t know how much CONCACAF can do with the referees because if they’re going to be terrible and they’re still the best in the region, it’s not like you can magically get better referees. Yeah technology would be an improvement, but that wasn’t really the reason last night happened.

One thing CONCACAF can do is stop this immature fan and player behavior that has run rampant in this region. Let’s stop with chasing down referees, let’s stop with fans throwing beer and bodily fluids and anything else fans can get their hands on and let’s stop with yelling “puto” after EVERY goal kick. Many people have different interpretations of what that word means and the seriousness of that word, but let’s all admit that it’s something offensive and insulting. If anything, it’s a stupid cliche of a chant that is simply unnecessary. Who knows if anything will happen, past history says probably not.

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp

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