On Sunday, the Red Bulls found a new way to lose a game. (I don't know if MLS keeps that record, but New York surely owns it.) In the 90th minute of a 1-1 match at San Jose, Red Bulls defender Roy Miller was whistled for a handball, and 2012 leading scorer Chris Wondolowski lined up for a penalty kick. Miller, who continues to mystify RBNY fans by having a job, managed to ruin that too.
Fast-forward to the 50-second mark of the video. Miller enters the penalty box at the same time Wondolowski begins his run-up. That's encroachment, and that's illegal. Wondo's kick was saved by goalkeeper Luis Robles, but because of Miller's encroachment, he was given another attempt, and converted for an Earthquake win. And today we learn that Miller wasn't just jumping the gun—he intentionally sabotaged the first kick.
In an interview with MLSSoccer.com, Miller said he left his line early on purpose. His thinking: Wondolowski would score on the first attempt, but the encroachment would force him to try again, and, rattled, Wondolowski would probably miss the re-take.
“I did it so that if [Wondolowski] made it, he would have to do it again and then he missed. I had the unfortunate luck that Luis saved the initial attempt.”
Yes, Miller was hoping to ice the kicker, in the same way NFL coaches call time out just before an opponent tries a field goal. And just as seems to happen most of the time in football, it backfired, giving the opponent a second chance.
But this is the crucial point: had Wondolowski scored on the first attempt, the referee would have counted it and waved off the encroachment. Miller's brilliant plan could not possibly have worked, and ultimately resulted in RBNY forfeiting a point.
Remember what we said about the Red Bulls finding new ways to lose? This was actually a variation on their heartbreaking playoff loss in November. In a scoreless game against D.C. United, this time it was RBNY taking the PK. Kenny Cooper scored—but two of his teammates had jumped early. An encroachment call, and the re-kick was saved. United would win 1-0. The Red Bulls are amazing.