It’s one thing to see a professional player down on the turf for a long period of time, and then stretchered off the field. But at least you can say to yourself that hey, that’s a pro on the field, (s)he knows the risks of playing the game. That’s why that person gets a paycheque.
But, when a teenage amateur player — on the field because of national pride and the chance to develop her young career — lays on the ground, it’s a lot harder to watch.
Canadian defender Mika Richards was on the turf for several minutes. And it put Canada’s 2-0 loss to the United States in a different light. Yes, Canadian keeper Rylee Foster made an outstanding double save on the ensuing American penalty kick but, with the game already lost, and Canada down to 10 players, it didn’t feel all that glorious. After all, these two teams’ final U-17 Women’s CONCACAF Championship group-stage game wasn’t a do-or-die affair; both had already qualified to move on.
Late in the match, after losing the ball to U.S. forward Mallory Pugh, Richards chased down her quarry from behind and tugged on the American’s jersey. Pugh went down, and in the process of going to the turf, her elbow looked to inadvertently crash against Richards’ face. But, replays showed that Richards was actually going down in pain before the contact was made. After the incident, Richards was motionless on the pitch for several minutes, being attended to by medical teams. Meanwhile, the referee placed the ball on the spot — after all, Richards did foul Pugh in the penalty area — and waited for the Jamaican hosts’ volunteer crews to take the injured player off the pitch. And, as Richards was strapped to the stretcher, she was sheepishly shown a yellow card for that initial shirt-tug.
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