Stoppage Time: Suarez continues to soil his reputation
By Chris Ravita, Soccer Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - He cheats. He dives. He hates the Jackson 5. He's Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan striker has all the footballing talent you could ever wish for a player, but once again, he made headlines for all the wrong reasons at the weekend.
Liverpool was held to a scoreless draw by Stoke City at Anfield on Sunday, a match that encapsulated Suarez in a nutshell.
He was a constant threat to the Stoke defense, terrorizing Robert Huth with his pace and tight control. He was Liverpool's driving force and looked the most likely player from either side to break the deadlock.
But the 25-year-old also revealed the ugly side of his game, collapsing in the penalty box like a sack of bricks late in the match.
Suarez did well initially to maintain possession in the box, but his thought process was transparent once he realized that he was surrounded by three Potters defenders. Marc Wilson and Dean Whitehead were within arm's length, and while a light toe-poke yielded virtually no contact, the Uruguayan tumbled to the grass and immediately peered to referee Lee Mason with hands raised.
The instance riled Potters manager Tony Pulis, who subsequently called for the English Football Association (FA) to intervene.
"Retrospective decisions are made on a Monday and Luis Suarez should be punished," Pulis said in an interview with the BBC. "The one in the penalty box was an embarrassment and how he wasn't booked I don't know.
"He's a fantastic player, he's got great ability and he is the one player we were frightened to death of (Sunday), but doing things like that ... Give him three games and he will stop falling over."
There is perhaps no player in world football who is more polarizing than Luis Suarez. While blessed with sensational playing ability, his track record insists that he also can be a menace in the worst sense of the word.
In the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup, Uruguay found itself tied with Ghana at a goal apiece deep into extra time. The African nation had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when Stephan Appiah connected on a free kick that looked destined for the back of the net, but Suarez blocked the shot on the goal line with his hands. Suarez was sent off immediately, but watched from the sidelines before his march back to the dressing room as the ensuing penalty kick was not converted. Suarez let out a massive celebration and Uruguay went on to win 4-2 on penalties to advance to the semifinals.
Suarez was branded thereafter a villain and a cheat, but he showed no remorse for propelling Uruguay to the next round by tactics of questionable moral fiber.
"Mine is the real 'Hand of God,'" the Uruguayan said after the match, in reference to Diego Maradona's goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. "I made the save of the tournament."
Fast forward to the 2011-12 season after a high-profile switch from Ajax to Liverpool in 2011's January transfer window. Suarez was in the thick of another controversy when he was accused (and eventually convicted) of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
Suarez was handed an eight-match ban and fined over $60,000 for the incident, but he was not finished there.
His first match back from the suspension was against United at Old Trafford. Suarez assured Liverpool that he would shake Evra's hand in the traditional pre-game ritual, but he ended up snubbing the Frenchman, leading the United captain to grab his arm in a slight confrontation.
Sunday's draw at Anfield brought out the best and worst of Suarez, but it's clear that his reputation precedes him.
Suarez has a chance to become a footballing legend and join the long list of fabled Liverpool stars. But as long as the controversial aspects of his game garner as much attention as his output, his legacy will hang in the balance.
10/09 14:33:00 ET