Torsten Frings handball: The handball in the USA versus Germany game in the 2002 World Cup. Gregg Berhalter’s volley appears to hit the hand of the defender, Torsten Frings, after beating the German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. I’m going to guess that a lot of American soccer fans don’t know that the current coach of the national team, Berhalter, nearly scored in the World Cup but didn’t due to a Frings handball.
The most important goal in American soccer history that was not to be. Taken away by a poor call by the referee. If only there was VAR back then. At least Frings handball wasn’t intentionally trying to block the shot with his hand. Looks like the ball hits his hand more than anything, but still.
It’s funny, now of course the coach of the U.S. team is Greg Berhalter. He would have been a legend. This is what Berhalter said about the handball:
“We had other chances also. That wasn’t the only one,” Berhalter said. “It wasn’t like it paralyzed us. We played an excellent game. It had more implications because it would’ve been a penalty kick and red. It could’ve positioned us to go to the next round.”
I’m hoping Berhalter has a Torten Frings jersey framed up on his wall somewhere for irony’s sake. Here’s video of the 2002 World Cup Quarter Finals: Germany vs United States controversy.
MLS Soccer has more on the Frings handball story.
“That was a handball by Torsten Frings. That was a game-changing handball by Torsten Frings, because even though Germany were up 1-0 at that point, the US were just smashing the hell out of them. They’d been on the front foot from literally the opening seconds, and only a magnificent display from goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was keeping the US off the scoreboard. But this play here, with Gregg Berhalter getting loose after Tony Sanneh’s flick… this was the equalizer. This was it.”
Maybe the handball by Frings isn’t as bad as the Henry handball against Ireland but it’s bad. It says something too, about soccer in general. And how the game rests on a few key moments that can turn the game on its head.