The Paul & Hall Show, week 5

I keep meaning to do two of these in one entry, and then I go off into Shiny Happy Tangentland and the post becomes longer than the Tropic of Capricorn and oops, where'd the day go? Let's see how I do this time.

In week 5, recorded April 30, Mike recalls that last week's topics were bench decorum and risk taking. The subject of bench decorum sets Paul into a seething, bristling rage - this was the week of the post-Preki/Landon silliness/gloriousness. I hope they talk about this for all fifteen minutes, even if they can't or won't name names.

"The bench behavior, there was not very much improvement in week 5. We see the need to a better job to address the bench decorum and behavior overall. Not just dissent from players and coaches, but the overall decorum. The gamesmanship from the coaches continue to be noticed in the games, and the officials just continue to find reasons just not to deal with it....we have cases of players jumping up after decisions, to protest in unision. One game last week we had a coach running down the tehcnical area to dissent a decision from the referee that he hasn't even made yet! And this goes unnoticed by the 4th offiical. And we had a player leave the field of play during play to talk to the coaching staff of the other team. All of this went unnoticed." Paul, you will gathered, is unchuffed.

I don't remember Preki or Ruud running down the sideline to work the ref, and come to think of it it's hard to think of a coach in the league who wouldn't be capable of such a thing right now. (Well, we can rule out Sigi, because he got there before the decision was made, and I don't think Coach Schmid can move that fast. Yes, I'm overweight. So I'm allowed to make fat jokes.) The rest of Paul's vehemence screams out "Superclasico."

So what is to be done? The fourth official must give a stern warning, followed by dismissal. No one's been tossed out of games, so maybe the word got down in the past couple of weeks.

What about risk-taking, the euphemism they're using to justify cheap-shots between the penalty areas? Brian: "Last week all the games again were played in what we would generally call a safe environment. I think that's really been noted by the fact that there continues to be a reduction of fouls per game. Last week we only had 24.4 fouls called in a game. However, on the other hand, we are seeing that the referees still have the opportunity to inject more flow into the game in terms of a more liberal use of advantage. The wait and see approach to blowing the whistle and keeping the flag down by the assistant referee in terms of advantage."

I'm torn by this. I can't remember listening to anything where I've gone from totally agreeing to completely disagreeing, and back again, within the space of three or four words.

I don't know what Brian means by a safe environment, but I'll bet it's some Orwellian description that boils down to "safe from being called for a foul." Fouls called and fouls committed are not identical. It's the difference between arrest rate and crime rate. There's a reason no one suggests fighting crime by disbanding the police force.

On the other hand, I love the hockey-style advantage call, and I wish soccer would adopt it. That is something that could be shown to players during the play, unlike the keeping the flag down and figuring out who is offside through ESP. They should give hockey-advantage enforcement a try in some fourth division league to see whether it works. If it doesn't, well, I'm wrong. But the horror of seeing the referee raise his hand to signal advantage, and EVERY SINGLE PLAYER FROM THE FOULED TEAM RUSH FORWARD IN A NOTHING-TO-LOSE BANZAI CHARGE, will cut down on fouls after the first couple of games, is my theory. It's also a great way to fight diving, too. Yeah, a cheap free kick is nice, but if you stay on your feet you get a free shot at goal...AND the free kick. So there is less incentive to dive. I realize it won't eliminate diving completely, because referees will sometimes miss fouls completely. But it might have some effect.

Sadly, I don't think this is what Brian is suggesting at all.

And all of a sudden we're eighteen paragraphs in, and we haven't even described this week's great or blown calls yet. In fact, we're only THREE MINUTES IN. Don't think I'm getting to week 6 in this post, unless week 6 is all about their favorite sandwiches.

First class decision in week 5! Controversial decision, but the referee team made the right call! Kansas City v. Toronto, 55:02 in the game. Good call, assistant ref. It was the wait-and-see approach. I wonder if I can go back and see this clip. I can, it's here, under "Guevara's 2nd half brace."

Bruce Arena thought at first it was a garbage call, then changed his mind. Paul loves the call.

Well...after several views, I'm going from completely disagreeing to reluctantly agreeing to completely agreeing. The angle there is useless to see where Guevara was when Wynne touched the ball last. And, to be frank, not only did Kansas City defenders touch the ball, it's their own damn fault for not clearing it. Besides, everyone involved was in the penalty area. It looks and sounds as if they're saying "Guevara was offside when Wynne touched the ball last, but so what." I don't know if I'm comfortable with that. Although, this wasn't a case of a player being secretly offside, since he apparently wasn't. The flag stayed down, and Kansas City should have kept playing instead of allowing Amado to camp out next to Gato. Wizard defenders had all the information they needed. They just blew it. Next time, cover the guy. Paul gets on KC for this, too. Harsh.

("So, after several views, huh? ARs and refs only get ONE view, you know." Yes, but I'm not saying they missed the call, I'm talking about whether the fundamental interpretation of the rule makes sense. The AR called it according to direction, so good for him.)

The Four P principles of advantage application. 1. Possession. 2. Potential for attack. 3. Personnel - numerical advantage. 4. Proximity to goal. Okay, well, I don't think those should be relevant, really, except for #1. If the player keeps possession, call advantage. The example used is Khano Smith against Dallas, here. About halfway through.

Now, this is perfect advantage, but if Khano had missed the shot, would there have been a free kick? To me, that's what advantage should be. Yes, a foul was correctly not called, fine work by the referee. But that's not going to do anything to discourage fouling for fouling's sake, except to drum in the lesson that if you're going to foul, make sure the guy feels it.

Paul and Brian finally name names! Jozy Altidore burst past Nick Garcia's dirty, dirty fouling, but the AR ruined everyone's day by calling a foul. No clip.

Oh. "You cannot allow players as a referee to get away with fouls that are cautionable early in the game just because it's early in the game, and you're afraid that you're going to set a negative tone early. Just the opposite. Nip that first foul in the bud. If it's a cautionable offense, issue the caution." THANK you, Brian. I couldn't agree more. The example was the early yellow on Brandon McDonald, and Paul says even though he got the ball first, his follow-through was a definite yellow card.

There's nothing about this I can argue with. One of my pet peeves is "He got the ball first!" when the second leg shows more studs up than a gay porno. By the way, see how much easier this is when you use names? I remember this play, and yeah, Brandon got the ball, and yeah, Brandon deserved a card. Jair Marrufo was utterly torched by fans after the game, but it looks like the powers that be have his back.

Paul and Brian take time to have a laugh at "superclasico." Ah, MLS marketing.

There is more meat in these podcasts than a gay porno, week six will have to wait. I've got gay porno to watch. Having dropped gay porno references four times in three paragraphs, I will now post, and shudder at the trackbacks I will get.