Lazy MLS refereeing sinks the Vancouver Whitecaps ship yet again

October 30, 2014 at 6:19 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | 1 Comment
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There is something about Major League Soccer referees which makes them think it is fine to make crazy discretionary calls against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Perhaps it is because we are a Canadian club. Perhaps it is because we are a smaller city. Perhaps it is because we are relatively new to MLS.

Back in mid-September the Whitecaps were in Dallas for a regular season match. Down 2-1 in injury time the Whitecaps had the ball headed straight towards the Dallas goal with pace on it. One of Dallas’ defenders had his arm raised in the air, not by his side; the ball struck his arm and was deflected away from its path to the goal. The ref adjudged the hand ball to be accidental and did not call a penalty kick in the Whitecaps favour.

During last night’s playoff match against Dallas, the home side had the ball going across the box, not towards goal, which took a deflection and hit Kendall Waston’s hand, which was not outstretched, but by his side. Waston knew nothing about it when the ball hit his hand, and clearly did not intend to handle the ball. There was no imminent scoring opportunity taken away from Dallas. It was called a penalty kick and the match was effectively handed on a silver platter to Dallas.

Is there any wonder MLS teams and players are regularly complaining about crazy calls and inconsistent officiating by MLS officials? Remember those two penalty calls against Jay DeMerit for challenging for the ball in the 18 yard box earlier in the season?

My own view is that referee Mark Geiger saw lots of work ahead of him in extra time and penalty kicks last night and decided he would rather have an early night. He took the lazy way out. He later claimed he thought Waston had handled the ball intentionally. All of the video and the circumstances of the play demonstrate exactly the opposite. Another bad call by an MLS referee against the Whitecaps.

Would this call have been made if it was a Seattle Sounders or a Los Angeles Galaxy defender? My guess is no. This is the kind of call a team Like little Atalanta receives when they are playing powerhouses Juventus or AC Milan in the corrupt Italian league. The refs would never dare to make such a call agains the big clubs.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and it demonstrates that officiating is still one of the biggest problems with the credibility of MLS in world football.

The Vancouver Whitecaps must find a way to impress upon the League and its officials that we are not cannon fodder for other teams, but a serious football club that cannot be treated in this way.


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  1. The whitecaps and other teams seen as unimportant (in the ultimate goal of landing a multi year multimillion dollar network contract) will simply have to overcome the inevitable penalty calls, red cards that plague the league as refs, when faced with a close call, will chose the call that causes the least professional grief. It’s not corruption but rather “why make the call that will cause me grief it’s not worth it”. The team must enter each playoff match assuming at least one PK or red card (the caps are two-for-two in the playoffs for dubious pk calls and it will happen the next time you can bet on it). So the team needs to aquire a camilo-like striker that can generate 2-3 goals. The caps must forever assume. The refs will award one goal to their opponents, so they must score at least 2.

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