Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


A MEMO TO WORLD CUP ALL-STAR TEAM VOTERS

The Netherlands became the first team to win a World Cup match in regulation after trailing in the 88th minute when it shocked Mexico, 2-1, in Fortaleza and moved on to a quarterfinal meeting with Costa Rica while the Mexicans were eliminated in the second round for the sixth consecutive World Cup.

Four minutes into added-on time, Arjen Robben was controversially fouled along the goal line by veteran Mexican defender Rafael Marquez, and substitute Klaas jan Huntelaar buried the resulting penalty kick for the winner.

Mexico dominated much of the first half and was rewarded three minutes into the second on a sparkling left-footed strike by Giovani dos Santos from the top of the penalty area.  That only awakened the Dutch, however, and after 40 minutes of increasing pressure they drew level through Wesley Sneijder.  The Netherlands’ 10th corner kick (to Mexico’s two) was cleared to the top of the area and Sneijder ripped a shot first-time inside the left post.  [June 29]

Comment:  So much for El Tri, but more important to soccer fans, so much for the hottest goalkeeper at Brasil ’14.  Francisco Guillermo Ochoa Magana.

Memo Ochoa helped get Mexico a 1-0 victory over Cameroon, a scoreless draw with tournament host and favorite Brazil, and a must-win 3-1 triumph over Croatia, and his heroics continued into the second round until Sneijder and jan Huntelaar got off shots that no mortal could stop.  Though no player whose team was eliminated in the round of 16 made the 2010 World Cup all-star team, Ochoa, with no more miracles to offer, could make the 2014 World Cup all-star team based on only these four matches.  (Germany’s Manuel Neuer, however, may ultimately stand in his way.)

This World Cup was sweet retribution for the bushy-haired Memo.  At the 2006 World Cup, he was Mexico’s 20-year-old understudy, its No. 3 goalkeeper.  Four year laters, for South Africa, he was controversially No. 2, behind the veteran Oscar Perez, a decision that mystified and disappointed his many fans.  This time, he made 10 official saves–many of them acrobatic–in four games, and while perhaps his greatest save was made, point-blank, by his face against the Dutch, he stamped his name on this World Cup.

So Ochoa leaves a loser.  Only he sparkled in the biggest shop window of them all.  After seven years at Club America and three in France, his club, Ajaccio, was relegated to the second division last spring, and Ochoa announced his intent to leave.  What kind of impression did Memo make while with Ajaccio?  One Ajaccio supporter announced that he would sell his home and everything in it–including his wife and kids–for $13.6 million in an effort to help raise what he believes would be the funds needed to keep Ochoa in an Ajaccio shirt.

 

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36 EJECTIONS, AND ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Claypole defeated Victoriano Arenas, 2-0, in an Argentine second division match that came to an early end with all 36 players in uniform ejected, believed to be a world record.   Referee Damian Rubino had already reached into his pocket several times in an effort to control the ill-tempered match when a harsh challenge by Arenas midfielder Rodrigo Sanchez touched off a bench-clearing brawl.  Rubino responded by red-carding what remained of the starters and reserves from both teams.

Appeals lodged by the two sides could not be heard before their next matches, so in those games the equally depleted Claypole and Arenas were forced to field teams made up entirely of youth players.  [March 6]

Comment:  This unusual tale is mentioned primarily because it recalls one that just missed the final manuscript of Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats:

Antonio Marquez Ramirez is one of the most accomplished referees in Mexican soccer history.  A distinguished gentleman with trimmed mustache and silver mane,  Marquez, then 50, was in the middle for two matches at the 1986 World Cup (West Germany’s 2-0 win over France in the semifinals and Denmark’s famous 6-1 first-round dismantling of Uruguay),  and later that year he ran a line at the FIFA World All-Star Game for UNICEF at the Rose Bowl.  He was not, however, allowed to go gently into that good night.

In August 1986, in his swan song as a referee, Marquez had the honor of working Mexico’s classico, Club America against Chivas Guadalajara at the Estadio Azteca.  Some honor.  In the 72nd minute, in a dust-up between Mexican internationals, a fallen Fernando Quirarte of Chivas was kicked in the chin by America’s Carlos Hermosillo, triggering a free-for-all that featured an equal number of high kicks and wild haymakers.  Marquez called it a career by calling it a day:  he lifted a red card and turned a 360, ejecting everyone in sight, then walked off the field.

The remaining 18 minutes were played out a month later in an empty stadium with referee Edgardo Codesal in charge.  Of course, none of those ejected America or Chivas players were involved.  America, leading thanks to a 50th-minute goal, prevailed, 1-0.