Sunday, December 16, 2007

U-23's Draw China Again

The US Under 23 team drew against China late Saturday/early Sunday in China, in the team's second game of their tour of China. The United States jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first half thanks to goals by Robbie Rogers, Patrick Ianni, and Charlie Davies.

To start the second half, coach Peter Nowak made 6 planned substitutions, one of which included Wizards midfielder/defender Michael Harrington coming on for Mike Randolph. Harrington, though, was the victim on the first goal as he didn't shut down his man on the left wing, and China pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute.

One of the other half time substitutes, Hunter Freeman picked up an injury early in the second half, causing the US to have to make another sub, which brought the Wizards other representative, Aaron Hohlbein into the game. With the full scale changes to the back line, China took advantage and pulled within one in the 65th minute.

As the article states, it looked like the US then settled down and was going to weather the pressure and get out with a 3-2 win. Unfortunately, the Chinese referee had other ideas.

With the match clock reading 90 minutes, Zhenyu collected the ball at the top of the box and dribbled towards goal. Second-half substitute Aaron Hohlbein cleanly tackled the ball away, but was left to stare in horror as referee Zhao Liang pointed to the penalty spot. Zhenyu had Seitz going the wrong way as he converted the ensuing penalty to level the score at three apiece.
Hohlbein looks to have been the victim of some bias refereeing on this final call. Having fallen asleep and not seen the foul and can't make my determination, but more often then not, these articles try to remain impartial unless the call is very bad. If some highlights of the game go up I'll make sure to post them.

That was not the only drama late in the second half, as Jozy Altidore was the victim of a rather harsh challenge, that saw the teams get into a scuffle in front of the US bench. In the aftermath of the scuffle, captain, Sacha Kljestan was ejected.

Giving up 3 goals in the second half is not the way to impress the coach, but it is only one game so Harrington and Hohlbein probably haven't done irreplaceable to their Olympic chances, but they certainly did not help themselves.


Thanks to mike8219 on bigsoccer for providing these highlights. There's no replay of the PK in this video, just the US goals and the Kljestan ejection, which contrary to the article looks fairly deserved.

Edit 2:
Thanks again to mike8219 on bigsoccer for getting full highlights up, including the "PK" call, which is around 3:36 in this video. Hohlbein looks to slide in and send the ball away and the attacker just falls over him after Hohlbein gets the ball. Poor call in my opinion

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