Jim Curtin didn’t waste much time expressing his opinion about Columbus Crew SC’s goal on Wednesday night. The Philadelphia Union head coach was very clear in his opening comments following the match.
"I thought overall I’m proud of the team," Curtin began his press conference. "There’s no quit in them. Even after we didn’t concede a real goal."
In the 73rd minute, a header from a Federico Higuain corner kick was headed on frame by Tony Tchani and saved by goalkeeper Andre Blake. The ball hit the crossbar, bounced around and was kicked goalward by Crew SC forward Adam Jahn. Blake dove to save it and midfielder Warren Creavalle attempted to clear, but Jahn began to celebrate as the assistant referee in the far corner raised his flag.
The play was very close, so the question is, goal?
"My guys were honest as can be and they were there and they said it’s actually not even close," Curtin said.
For Jahn, it was his first goal since joining the Black & Gold less than a month ago and to him that’s all that matters.
"The ref called it a goal so it’s a goal," the forward said following the game.
While the goal ultimately stood, it appears it shouldn’t have. According to SoccerPhotogrammetry, a Twitter account which uses 2D photos to create a 3D models of controversial plays, the full ball did not cross the line.
In this instance it didn’t matter, as the Union went straight off the ensuing kickoff and scored the winning goal, but that didn’t change Curtin’s opinion.
"It influences the game in a major way because we could be walking out of here with one point. Who knows. The Crew could come down and score again. These are big decisions," he said.
"They have real big consequences for players, for coaches, for everybody. And to get involved, you better be 100 percent sure and I think he was a little quick. He was excited to call it a goal and it was kind of disappointing because my guys said it’s not even close."
This instance benefitted Crew SC, momentarily, but Columbus has been on the wrong end of a similar question of an over the line or not call.
In last year’s MLS Cup Final, the Portland Timber’s second goal, which proved to be the winner, came from a play where the ball clearly went out of bounds before it was played into the 18-yard box.
Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter has mentioned that play more than once this year and is an advocate for using technology to get these calls right.
Curtin is also a supporter of this idea.
"These are big decisions and it’s a great advertisement for goal-line technology," he said. "I know they’re working hard to get it, but let’s get these plays right because they have big consequences."
Black & Gold fans won’t be happy with another loss on the season, which dropped the team to the bottom of the Major League Soccer standings, but maybe they will take some solace in the fact that justice was likely served.
Curtin certainly will
"I guess in the words of (Philadelphia legend) Rasheed Wallace," he said, "the ball does not lie."