Rough and Tumble Soccer

There is a fine line between physical play and just plain dirty and that line was blurred on Wednesday during Monte Vista’s 2-1 win over De La Salle in the semifinals of the 3A NCS playoffs.

There was lots of shoving, elbows, guys falling on other guys, players pushing opposing players, stare downs, cursing, trash talking (between parents and coaches?), dads having to restrain their sons, yellow cards galore.

If the teams’ wanted to play rough then a rugby match would be in order. Rarely, and I mean RARELY, were there any sequences where touch passing was involved, or the ball was kept on the ground for a considerable amount of time. The whole 50/50 ball and throw-in/set piece kick into the box style isn’t easy on the eyes for soccer fans and gets old real quick. Plus, it leads to a considerable amount of contact and people can get hurt, both physically and emotionally. How? The physical part is obvious, but emotionally, guys have pride and when another dude plows into them, they usually won’t let it slide that easily after the umpteenth time. Thus, tensions rise and we have a street fight on our hands. Nobody wants to see that.

Maybe that phsyical type of soccer can win you games, but please give me the one-touch soccer, the finesse soccer, the soccer that makes you say "WOW" for a fantastic skillfull play, and not because some kid just receieved an elbow to the chin and has to sit out.

It is matches like DLS vs. MV on Wednesday that make the line between tough and dirty nearly disappear.


  • Who Knows

    Yes, the game was a rough one. But with the history of the two teams, and a ref that did not control the game what so ever, what do you expect. DLS is a team that is used to pushing around other teams with ease, and when they finally got a team that will push back, it got ugly. The winner was to go the NCS Finals, so every one of the players is going to try their hardest, and if one team is gonna play physically, the other is going to have to match up to stay with them. But agreed, touch soccer is much prettier, but that is not how that game went, and the better team came out on top.

  • chanks

    was wondering which team got all the yellow cards. was it even or one sided. a goalie yellow is unusual. was it deserved? it won the game. also did yellow cards come early or late in game.

  • Ricardo Sanchez Jr.

    Sometimes physical play in matches is necessary and welcomed, but not when it becomes the focal point and disrupts the flow of the match. As far as the yellow cards, it was pretty even, Monte Vista 4, De La Salle 5. A lot of stuff went unnoticed or uncalled and, yes I agree, most of it had to do with the ref. I would say unintentional fouls were called for yellows more (guys just going hard for the ball without intent) than the fouls that looked intentional. But the ref did hand out some deserving cards. Others weren’t so clear. The yellow card the DLS goalkeeper received for jumping after a ball sent into the box was borderline, there was some interference, but it seemed both players arrived at the same time. Who knows if the MV player would have reached it? DLS coaches didn’t like it, that’s for sure. But it was a judgement call, like many PK’s that are awarded. The ref made the call in MV’s favor and De La Salle paid for it. That was the difference in the match since it led to the deciding goal. The yellows hurt DLS more because one of their best players, Patrick Dolan, was given the red card after receiving two yellow cards. The second play he was called for didn’t seem dirty, and it looked as if Dolan was just playing hard battling for a 50/50 ball. But with the match having already deteriorated at that point – mid second half – my guess was the ref felt compelled to make the call. Both teams had their chances and when it came down to it, DLS couldn’t convert on a few point blank opportunities and MV goalie BJ Byrns – and a quick footed MV defender that blocked the potential tying goal when he kicked the ball out from in front of the goal in stoppage time – pretty much saved the day.

  • Soccer Mom

    Obviously the refs lost control of the game but I think the real issue is that the difference between High School Soccer versus Club Soccer can be huge. I have kids that play both and every year I can not wait until High School is done. It never seems to be good soccer, one team always dominates and we always have the dirty play.

    Get better and more consistent refs and your game may not be pretty soccer but the tone of the game will change. And it would probably also help for the coaches to teach the kid, it is more effective to beat them with the ball.

    I think I have heard just about enough slamming from both MV and DLS. These two schools can learn something from other less fortunate schools. Both of these schools have a reputation for a great education but then we keep reading opinions and stories in the paper that suggest they never learned anything in kindergarden. Fine have your rival but play a clean game and that goes for all sports, parents, coaches and players.

    I say GO RICHMOND!

  • bay area’s finest

    alot of the rough and tumble soccer obviously had to do with more the opponent and the ref that game, because anyone who was at MVHS vs. Richmond saw that MV can play the finesse as well. Richmond put up an awsome game, and MV has the upmost respect for them and the way the held themselves on and off the field, but nothing was going to stop MV from winning. thankyou to all the supporters and congrats to MV for not listening to those people who said they couldnt do it, and winning the 2006 NCS Championship for the first time in Monte Vista history EVER!!

  • MR.S

    The best teams have to step up and do what it takes to win. DLS has been dirty for many many years. Their lack of class is very clear. Ask any of those Richmond players or coaches if they thought the MVH players or coaches were rude or dirty. I have been in and around the highest levels of USA soccer for well over 20 years. Every game I have seen DLS play has been very very physical. MVH was able to match that and gave it right back. Good for them. And by the way I am a San Ramon HS parent. So you know that I never like to see MVH win!!!!

  • MRS B

    Interesting comments from MVH supporters. I saw the game on Comcast Saturday and they were keeping track of the fouls. By half time Monte Vista had about 12 where DLS had about half that. By the end of the game it was still MV leading in the number of fouls. Interesting…why is it that everyone says DLS plays dirty????

  • SoccerDad

    If you were at the game, and at pretty much any DeLaSalle game, you will find it interesting that fouls are called dramaticaly against their opponents vis a vis the Spartans. Divine intervention perhaps? The agression in this match was evenly dished out by both teams. The sportsmanship was not. The Catholic School, could learn a great deal from the sportsmanship displayed by MV and Richmond at their championship game. A Great SOCCER match by the way.

  • MV Midfielder

    I would like to thank those who supporeted the MV team throughout the season. Truth be told, it was a dirty match I got elbowed in the face 2 times and every time I got knocked down a DLS player was right there to step on me when the ball cleared or kick my ankle(but i didn’t leave the field once). Although I may have a bias view I can garentee one thing, we knew going into the game that they were going to play dirty and if we backed down we would have been handing them the game. So, we too played physical however with no ill intent, which cannot be said for DLS players. Finally, for a religious based school they were by far throwing around the most un-holy words on the field, MV players known better than that.

  • EB

    Soccer Dad stop invoking “The catholic School” crap when you have a beef with DLS. The kids who go to that school don’t sit on their hands all day. DLS does play football and rugby so theyve been known to rough opponents up once in a while.

  • SoccerDad

    EB you are missing my point. My only beef with DeLaSalle is the behavior of their soccer team. They, in my opinion, don’t represent themselves, their school or their school’s faith, in a way that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. I went to a Catholic grade school and High School. I know what is possible and what should be expected. They don’t even appear to try. I’m Pretty sure Lad and Allocco have their players on the right page,but soccer?,they need to open the book once in a while.

  • Rene Siles — RHS Soccer

    As a coach whose team has played both DLS and MV
    this year, I would like to add my two cents to
    this discussion.

    First, I did not watch the DLS-MV semifinals game.

    Second, we played DLS 3 times in the last 3 years.
    One game was a tournament game, and the two others
    were regular contests. We never had an issue with
    DLS roughness or bad behavior. Granted, none of
    these games were playoff games, but DLS players
    and coaches were always first class in their
    behavior. Actually, last year our game was played
    at DLS in a big rain storm. Brian, the head coach
    let us use one of their locker rooms at half-time
    without us asking. The game was highly contested
    and leaving us in the rain would have been a
    definite anadvantage for them.Winning this game
    was the major reason why we received the #1 seed last year.

    Each time we played MV, the attitude of players
    and coaches was also always first class.

    I know that there is a strong antipathy between
    the two teams. What happened at last year’s finals
    is proof enough (and probably it is cause for
    some of this as well.)

    My thinking on the DLS-MV game is that a lot has
    to do with the level of physical play the referee
    will allow. For example, imho both in our
    quarterfinals game and semifinals game, I felt
    that the referees protected both teams very well.
    Without taking anything from a great MV team, in
    the finals it seemed to me that almost anything
    was OK. Players from both teams seemed to get
    away with consistently dangerous plays.

    I have two remarks about this, which I hope can
    help soccer in NCS in the future:

    1. I strongly believe that creative soccer must
    be protected. The attitude among some that
    playoffs or finals means that overly physical
    play should be allowed is plain wrong, and I will
    be tempted to say that such attitude has hampered
    the development of soccer in the US over the years.
    Players like Donovan or Beasley for example
    are the pride of US Soccer, and rightfully so.
    They, and their successors must be protected.

    2. It is important that referees be as consistent
    as possible across playoff games, and of course
    within games. NCS would be right to develop
    refereeing standards that would apply to all
    playoff games, and possibly to all games played
    in the section.