Terrible penalty call on Oguchi Onyewu in the World Cup game versus Ghana. If only there was VAR back then I think the referee wouldn’t have made the call. To me it looks like both players are fairly fighting for the ball in the air. They’re both battling for a header in the box and Onyewu is just bigger and wins the soccer ball. Onyewu is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and the Ghana forward Pimpong is 5-8, 158 pounds. So yes, quite a difference in size and the ref just made a terrible call.
It does seem like the U.S. team was a bit cursed in this game. The penalty call on Onyewu is right up there with the hand ball by Frings in the World Cup.
From NPR here’s a description of the penalty call on Onyewu:
“Onyewu pushed down Razak Pimpong in the penalty area battling for a header, and Germany’s Markus Merk — one of the world’s top-rated officials — immediately pointed to the penalty spot as Arena buried his face in his hands. Keller dived left, but Appiah put the ball high to the goalkeeper’s right.”
The World Cup match versus Ghana was also marked by Claudio Reyna losing the ball and Ghana going on to score. Reyna does his best to try to keep the ball, even sacrificing his knee in a way to try to stop the Ghana player. Later, Reyna and has to leave the game due to his injured knee.
But for Reyna to get caught with the ball in that part of the field is of course terrible. He’s experienced and should know better. He should have been more aware of where he was. Or his teammates should have let him know there was a defender coming. What’s more the United States team’s defense is no where to be found after Reyna loses the soccer ball.