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Ref in USMNT-Wales May Have Missed Out-of-Bounds Call Before Bale’s PK

The United States men’s national team opened the 2022 World Cup in frustrating fashion Monday after kicking off group play with a 1–1 draw against Wales in Qatar.

After the U.S. took an early lead on a Tim Weah goal 36 minutes inWales eventually evened the score with a Gareth Bale penalty kick in the 82nd minute after defender Walker Zimmerman fouled the Welsh star on a hard tackle. The pivotal moment ultimately proved to be one of the day’s biggest plays, but according to USMNT defender Antonee Robinson, a missed call on the sequence prior to the penalty could’ve led to a much different result.

The play in question came around the 79:30 mark, when Robinson and Wales defender Brennan Johnson jockeyed for the ball near the end line. After narrowly keeping the ball in play, Johnson attempted to do so again as the ball rolled toward the sideline, prompting Robinson to throw his arm up to signal out of bounds.

The linesman standing in front of the players elected not to make the call and allow play to continue, setting up the eventual equalizer. After the draw, Robinson, who was also seen talking to the linesman following the PK, blasted the officials for the potentially missed call and lamented over the impact he felt it had on the outcome. 

“Unless the replay shows differently, it was blatantly out of play,” Robinson said, via The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal. “So it’s really disappointing. I kept saying to the linesman, you’ve like cost us the game, basically. It should be a win. And then there’s nothing they can do, it’s a new phase of play, VAR can’t do anything at that point. So it’s disappointing. I think the officiating was terrible, to be honest, for the whole game. Hopefully that improves.”

Robinson’s strong remarks were later echoed by USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, who said after the match that he saw the same thing.

“I mean, I’m on the sideline, looking down the sideline, and I’m sure the ball went out of bounds. I’m positive,” Berhalter said, per Henry Bushnell of Yahoo Sports. “By a good margin, also. I was really surprised it wasn’t called. But it is what it is.”

Although Robinson and Berhalter clearly believe an egregious error was made by the officials, Monday’s finish will still go down in the history books as a disappointing start for the U.S. men as the squad looks to win its first World Cup. 

The USMNT will next take the pitch Friday against England, who earned a dominant 6-2 win over Iran to begin group play action.

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