IRENE, South Africa (AP) — Carlos Simon went through cards with the speed of a Las Vegas dealer at the 2006 World Cup.
The Brazilian referee issued five yellows during Italy's 2-0 first-round victory over Ghana, handing the first to Danielle de Rossi 10 minutes in. He gave out eight more in Spain's 3-1 win over Tunisia, and added four yellows and a red to his total as Germany beat Sweden 2-0 in the second round.
He's been selected to officiate the big U.S.-England game at this year's World Cup on Saturday. Given an English team and an American side filled with Premier Leaguers, it could make for a match of attrition
"A foul in England is a foul," American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann said. "In another country, they're wondering if it's a yellow card or a red card."
The U.S. had its own card-filled night at the last World Cup. In the 1-1 tie against Italy, the Americans went a man up when De Rossi was ejected by Uruguayan Jorge Larrionda in the 28th minute for an elbow that split Brian McBride's left cheek. Seventeen minutes later, the sides were evened when Pablo Mastroeni was ejected for a cleats-up tackle on Andrea Pirlo. American defender Eddie Pope was sent off two minutes into the second half for his second yellow, a tackle in which he got the ball first, then took down Alberto Gilardino.
World Cup matches generally are called tighter than league games, especially those in the wild, wild west of England.
"You go into a World Cup, you always want to have a little bit of sense of what FIFA has now chosen to clamp down on," American midfielder Michael Bradley said. "That will be something we think about."
Bradley, who plays for Borussia Moenchengladbach in Germany, missed last year's Confederations Cup final against Brazil after getting a red card in the semifinal victory over Spain for a lunging tackle.
Yet, he doesn't want think about curbing the roughness too much.
"Having a physical edge is something that we bring on our best days and I think we need to look to have on Saturday," he said.
English forward Wayne Rooney will be playing his first World Cup match since his team's penalty-kicks loss to Portugal in the 2006 quarterfinals. He got a red card that night for stomping on Ricardo Carvalho's groin — with then-Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo running over to Argentinian referee Horacio Elizondo to plead for Rooney's dismissal.
"I think you always have to be conscious of referees and their decisions," said American defender Jay DeMerit, captain of Watford in England's League Championship. "If you go in and do a tackle that you think you might be able to get away with in England, you might not be able to get away with it on this type of stage, you know. And I think that's our job, to realize that, and to understand the rules."
FIFA has tried to increase protection of goal-scorers, telling referees to give red cards for career-threatening fouls. But just because Simon gave out a few full houses of cards four years ago, American right back Steve Cherundolo doesn't necessarily expect a similar spate.
"I think the game Saturday, of course it will be a hard-fought game," he said. "Both teams want to win. Both are physically talented. So I assume there will be some tackles that may be reported or punished by a yellow card — I hope no red cards. It's part of the game, but I don't expect the referee to show more only because he has in the past."
Coach Bob Bradley knows games probably will be called tightly, and has made his feelings known.
"It's important that there's discipline," he said Wednesday. "I think we've seen in a number of World Cups, especially in the first round, the fact that players must respect the game, must respect their opponents. Otherwise, there will be cards given."