USA Teammates Defend Graham Zusi After Controversial Slow Substitution

by abournenesn

Jun 24, 2014

Silvestre Varela’s header for Portugal in the 95th minute in Sunday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup matchup was a heartbreaker for the USA.

According to soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, Varela’s goal should have never happened.

Immediately following Varela’s strike, a header off a beautiful cross from Christiano Ronaldo that came in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Twellman sent out an interesting tweet.

[tweet align=’center’]

Twellman was referencing U.S. midfielder Graham Zusi, who was substituted for just before stoppage time and walked rather slowly toward the sideline in an attempt to kill some time with his team leading 2-1.

Many are now placing some blame on Zusi for giving the Portuguese an extra minute of play that they used to stave off elimination and force the tie.

Zusi’s teammates, however, weren’t ready to point the finger at the midfielder.

“I think (Zusi made the right decision),” said goalkeeper Tim Howard, via Yahoo Sports. “You have to kind of balance it. You don’t want to take too much time but you have to take enough to run the clock down.”

It’s also possible that the extra time was going to be added regardless of how long Zusi took. Former World Cup referee Brian Hall told Yahoo! Sports on Monday that anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute can be added for any substitution.

Defender Omar Gonzalez recognized that fact and didn’t see the need to blame Zusi for the extra minute.

“I think they add 30 seconds for every sub they do, so I’m not really too sure about that one,” Gonzalez said.

Whatever the case, the Americans can put this all behind them on Thursday against Germany if they can qualify for the round of 16. If they fall short, though, expect to see more of Zusi’s name in the headlines.

Thumbnail photo via USA Today Sports Images


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