Last week I detailed for you why you should be watching the US Soccer Team right now. And while they may have mad a misstep in Costa Rica, you should still be watching them. I don’t take that back. No more winning streak sure, but hey, we are still more than likely going to Brazil and we still have all those pieces I mentioned to make it an exciting summer of 2014.
However some of those pieces will be missing when the United States takes on rival Mexico tonight at 8:00 EST and it is due to what is – BY FAR – the worst rule in all of sports.
Forget the tuck rule (RIP), silly basketball touch-fouls, the baseball replay challenge system, or the god-awful delay of game penalty for flipping a puck over the glass in hockey. None of them come close to what is known as yellow card accumulation in soccer. It is a rule that sometimes make me question why I love the sport. It is THAT bad.
The yellow/red card system itself is actually a good one. If you commit a slightly pointless foul that needs a bigger punishment than a whistle, you get a yellow card. Get 2 of those and you are out of the game with a red card. Makes perfect sense. However what you may not know if you are new to this is, is that if a player gets a yellow in game #1 of a tournament and then another in (for example) game #4, he is then suspended for game #5 automatically. Every tournament is different as far as when the rule resets, but most competitions have it going for quite a few games – which is fucking absurd especially when you keep in mind how subjective a single yellow card is.
To make things worse, in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, players carry their yellows since the semi-final round of qualifying. That means if you got a yellow card in JUNE OF 2012 and then picked up another against Costa Rica on Friday (a solid 15 month gap) you would be suspended for Mexico.
So imagine Kobe Bryant getting a silly technical foul in November, being a good boy, then getting his next T in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Now imagine because of just those 2 techs, he is suspended for Game 7. Welcome to yellow card accumulation hell and in soccer it is very, very real.
So when you do not see likely USA starters Jozy Altidore (!!), Matt Besler, or Geoff Cameron tonight, now you know why.
Worst…..rule…..ever. If you actually can nominate a worse one, I would love to hear it in the comment section below. Good luck.