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Afternoon Ticker: USA-Algeria ref assigned, Pirlo practicing and more


photo by Perry McIntyre/


In response to the controversy stirred in the United States-Slovenia match. FIFA has assigned Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere to officiate the Americans' critical Group C match against Algeria on June 23.

Bleeckere is considered to be a highly experienced and respected referee, and he officiated in Argentina's 4-1 victory over South Korea earlier in the tournament. He has also been the referee for big matches at the club level, including a Barcelona-Chelsea Champions League game in 2006.  

Mali referee Koman Coulibaly, who made the controversial call in the 2-2 draw between the United States and Slovenia, has yet to be assigned a match in the final round of group fixtures.

Here are some more stories from Monday:

Pirlo practicing again

Coming off an upsetting and surprising draw with New Zealand, Italy received a boost ahead of its final group match with Andrea Pirlo returning to training.

Pirlo has missed the first two matches of the World Cup with a calf injury, but his return to training could see him fit enough to start in the pivotal match against Slovakia. Italy will reach the Round of 16 with a win over the Slovaks, while a draw could see it advance if Paraguay ties New Zealand.

Pirlo's absence has been felt by the Italians in their first two Group F matches as they have lacked creativity and are yet to score a goal from the run of play in the pair of 1-1 draws.

Upson to start vs. Slovenia

Matthew Upson will start for England in its critical Group C match against Slovenia on Wednesday, Fabio Capello confirmed. Upson will replace center back Jamie Carragher, who is suspended for the game due to yellow card accumulation. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Upson will be paired with John Terry against Slovenia, marking the third different partnership in central defense for England at this World Cup.

Wolves sign Hunt

Wolverhampton Wanderers have bolstered its attack for the upcoming Premier League season with the signing of forward Stephen Hunt. Having long been linked with a move to Wolves, Hunt joins the club from relegated Hull City for an undisclosed transfer fee. He is the club's fifth signing this summer.

France returns to training

A day after refusing to practice, the French national team players resumed training without any drama. Shocking, yes. France plays South Africa on Tuesday in a must-win match in Group A. Even victory won't guarantee Les Bleus of advancing to the Round of 16, as a tie between Uruguay and Mexico would eliminate France.


Happy to see FIFA assign De Bleeckere? Think Pirlo can help solve Italy's troubles? How do you see Upson faring against Slovenia? Think Hunt is a good signing for Wolves? Expecting France to completely implode vs. South Africa?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. SBI Troll–how wrong you are. Take the case of the Malian referee in the Slovenia-USA match. He missed an elbow by Dempsey (that should have been a yellow card). He called a handball on Findley and gave him a yellow card (so he’s now out of the Algeria match) when the ball hit him in the face. He clearly blew the final call on a game that is more than just a blow call, if the US doesn’t advance to the 2nd round (or if Slovenia should advance over England) will have had momentous impacts. That’s not “one blow call” that’s a litany of terrible misses or poor calls.

  2. I see a problem with your theory – Mexico would find themselves (most likely) matched up with Argentina … instead of South Korea / Greece. Since Argentina has looked like the class of the Group, I doubt they’d just play catch (kick?) for 90min., instead of going for a win and a likely weaker Sweet 16 opponent. Just my opinion … realizing that Mexico may even think they match up better vs. Argentina.

  3. DC,

    Right, the game-opening strategies of USMNT leaves something lacking – oh yeah, defense.

    Needing to be a goal (or two) down to get motivated is not a successful strategy to stick around in the Cup for long. Let’s hope that is out of their system.

  4. There’s a former colony – now dominant power vs old world thing there, similar to a US v England match. Even if neither side needs points, both will want to win.

    So I expect a reasonably lively match, albeit Brazil lacks Kaka who was their primary creator.

  5. Damn straight. I wish we could just go out there from the first whistle with the “we’re already one goal down” mentality. It would really make these games easier (on my nerves) to watch.

    My hope is that we have the lead at halftime and goal up 2-0 in the second half so we’re able to get some of our subs minutes. I think Goodson, Holden, Beasley, Bornstein, and Spector could use some minutes. They wouldn’t all be able to get minutes, but three of them can. We’ll need them sharp if we want to make a deep run.

  6. As much emphasis that is put on the botched call that CLEARLY cost the US 3 vital points, it isn’t said enough how horrible they played in the first half and should never have had to come back from 2 goals down.

    I hate Coulibaly as much as every passionate US fan, but enough about the refs all ready. Let’s hope we come out on Wednesday and fight for 3 points like our lives depended on it. It always seems the only person who cares is Timmy. I wanna see the passion in the eyes of all 11 Yanks during the starting lineups. The last 3 and a half years have come down to this…


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