Friday, January 6, 2012

In Honor of the Primera División Kicking Off

I have a new piece about Santos' recent run and that horrible loss to Tigres at The Classical:
Santos had been the most electric offensive team in the tournament, but their one goal was the only shot they put on goal in the entire second leg.

In contests of even strength, Tigres, in contrast, preferred to play with some 17 men behind the ball at every moment. Their semifinal win over Querétaro was a miserable 180 minutes, with the lone score for either team coming on a horrific own goal. Only one of the eight playoff teams scored fewer goals over the course of the regular season than Tigres. Nonetheless, overcoming that natural inclination toward dreadful soccer, the Tigres attackers came at the net in waves in the second half of the vuelta. They scored their first goal of the night in the 51st minute, netted another 12 minutes later, and added a final dagger in the game’s waning minutes. Another two or three goals would not have outstripped the run of play.

As if intent on proving that his initial game-changer was not a one-off spasm of bad judgment, Rodríguez continued to seek the spotlight in a series of bizarre interventions. Like a two-pistoled gunmen in a Western—picture Kevin Costner’s move at the end of Silverado—he whipped out the double yellow card in the 56th minute, simultaneously warning Carlos Morales and Héctor Mancilla. (What ref carries around two yellow cards waiting for that moment?) He later awarded Santos’ defensive anchor, Felipe Baloy, a straight red card for a tackle in which the Panamanian actually clipped the ball first.
Also, the Christmas break from fútbol seemed thankfully short, this year.

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