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Republic Stoppage Time: The Hand of Asante

October 10, 2020

Phoenix Rising FC 1 - Sacramento Republic FC 0

Casino Arizona Field

Sacramento Goalscorers:

Phoenix Goalscorers: Solomon Asante (104)

Attendance: ???

Let's not beat around the bush -- Sacramento Republic FC suffered from a bad non-call in the first round of the USL playoffs. This loss enters the pantheon of bad Sacramento sports postseason losses. It's right up there with game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals.

Phoenix won 1-0 in a fairly even game last night on a handball from Rising midfielder Solomon Asante. Sacramento's season is now over. Done. Finished.

"It's just disappointing, obviously the result…I thought the players gave me every ounce of effort they had. I thought tactically they didn’t break us down," head coach Mark Briggs said following the match. "I’ve just seen the goal there and it’s a handball punched in. It just makes it even harder because I thought that tactically they didn't break us down. I thought they got frustrated, honestly I don't know how the ref hasn’t sent off Dadashov when he's elbowed Jaime straight in the face and cut his eye open, but apparently he didn't see that. Then the goal, it was a hand ball. All night they committed fouls and didn’t get yellow cards. I have to be careful with what I say because I don't want to get fined, but I think it's just…yeah…just frustrating."

Video highlights can be found here. Cameron Salerno's game recap is here.

Onto the storyline, yes there's only one.

The handball

I think the Republic were very unfortunate on this one. Asante punched the ball into the back of the net. It's what happened. It's not fair. The goal shouldn't have counted and the game should have gone to penalties.

But "should" has never been a part of soccer. Diego Maradona's first goal against England counted. The Republic have benefitted from marginal calls from officials too -- go rewatch the penalties given for Sacramento during the Miracle at Bonney.

The referee missed a call. That's it. It's not a conspiracy. There's no plot against Sacramento. It's a thing that happened and I don't think it's any bigger than that.

Listen: it's not good, this goal should not have counted.

Also, if Dariusz Formella finishes his chances in the 23rd or 94th minutes, we're probably not talking about this right now. You can only control what you can control, and the calls the officials make aren't one of those things.

I'm putting this here because I was closer to the goal than the referee. I was also sitting upstairs, meaning my view was unobstructed by players in the box. The sideline referee was on the other side of the field.

During live play, I had no idea what happened. I don't think many did. If you watch the body language of the Republic players, only Jordan McCrary really tries to appeal to the referee.

My point is simple: it happened so quickly that I don't think anyone really saw it. When I watched the replays this morning in the highlights of the game, I didn't even see it. Refereeing is hard, especially with plays as quick as these.

After the game, I asked coach Mark Briggs if he would have done anything differently to prepare his team. Here was his response:

"I don't think so, I think, with what we have against what we have, I felt tactically we were set up fine. Like I said, they were frustrated, they couldn't break us down and the refs give a goal that's a handball. It's as simple as that."

It really is as simple as that.

I don't think I have anything to add to that or to this. This is why it's imperative to finish your opportunities.

Here is my full interview with Briggs following the game. See you all next season.

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