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Marco Antonio Rodriguez's U.S. past
by Paul Kennedy, September 5th, 2013 8:56PM

TAGS:  men's national team


[COSTA RICA-USA] Leave it to soccer to be the only sport where the game official can be as big a story as any of the players or coaches in the buildup to a game. So what's the hoopla about the referee of Friday's Costa Rica-USA match, Marco Antonio Rodriguez? (And we're not talking about how he happens to be a Protestant minister and have the nickname "El Chiqui Dracula.")

Rodriguez -- one of the most experienced referees in Concacaf -- has a reputation for not being shy about handing out yellow cards.

The USA happens to have eight players on the trip who are carrying yellow cards in Friday night's game, which means any of them will be suspended for Tuesday's Mexico game in Columbus if Rodriguez hands them a card.

Rodriguez, who worked at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, is Mexican.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann raised the issue of a referee whose officiating might have huge implications for his country's next match when he told ESPN Radio Fórmula:

"I don't doubt that Marco Antonio Rodriguez is a great referee. But at the same time there is something I can't get out of my head. I have eight players with a yellow card and four days later we face Mexico. Truthfully, I don't like this."

There is precedence here, though.

In August 2005, Rodriguez refereed the USA-Trinidad & Tobago, which happened to also be the match before the USA and Mexico were to play in Columbus.

For the USA-T&T game, four players carried cards into the game and all four started: Gregg Berhalter, Bobby Convey, Eddie Lewis and Claudio Reyna. Of the four, Convey was carded in the 31st minute, though he subsequently carded again in the 88th minute and sent off in a match the USA won, 1-0.

But the fact remains, the USA had Rodriguez before it faced Mexico previously and survived. It won, 2-0, in Columbus to clinch -- on Matchday 7 -- a berth in the 2006 World Cup.

(It should also be noted that a referee whose officiating might impact his country's next game will be working Tuesday. The referee of the Jamaica-Costa Rica game is American Jair Marrufo. Jamaica's subsequent match will be Oct. 11 -- against the USA in Kansas City.)

Marco Rodriguez's U.S. matches:
Sept. 8, 2004
Panama 1 USA 1
(World Cup qualifying).
Yellow cards: Panama 2 USA 1.

Aug. 17, 2005

USA 1 Trin. & Tobago 0 (World Cup qualifying).
Yellow cards: USA 2 Trin. & Tobago 1.
Red cards: USA 1.

September 7, 2005
Guatemala 0 USA 0 (World Cup qualifying).
Yellow card: USA 1.

June 15, 2008
USA 8 Barbados 0 (World Cup qualifying).
Yellow cards: USA 1 Barbados 3.

June 11, 2011
USA 1 Panama 2 (Gold Cup).
Yellow cards: USA 5 Panama 2.

Sept. 7, 2012
Jamaica 2 USA 1 (World Cup qualifying).
Yellow cards: Jamaica 1 USA 2.
Note: Rodriguez also did USA-Italy (3-1) and USA-Ivory Coast (1-1) at the 2005 Under-17 World Cup.

    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 8:43 a.m.
    Just shoulder when coming up from behind....
  1. Margaret Manning
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 12:21 p.m.
    Well, since the assignments are no doubt random, that's just the luck of the draw, right? The assignments ARE random, right? Good thing we're in a sport without a hint of corruption and in a league that stands as an example of integrity and transparency for the world.
  1. Kent James
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 12:28 p.m.
    Assignments like this put the referee in a tough spot. Cynics will suggest that the Mexican referee will be more likely to hand out yellow cards to weaken the US squad against Mexico. Just as likely will be the case that the referee, in order to appear not to be biased against the US, will hesitate to hand out yellow cards to US players. Neither scenario is good. And of course, even if the referee is able to do the game without considering the implications, both the Mexicans and the Americans will be likely to perceive bias. CONCACAF should avoid assignments such as this one!
  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
    Agree, they should try to avoid the scenario.......but a great referee at this level shouldn't have the time to consider how his calls will be perceived one way or the other.....his full concentration has to be on game management! Best thing is for our Nats to score a bunch of goals and take him out of the equation all together!!
  1. Barry Thomas
    commented on: September 6, 2013 at 6:12 p.m.
    Why can't we switch officials between associations, e.g. CONCACAF for CONMEBOL games, and vice versa?

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