Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Refs red-carding as required
by Ridge Mahoney, April 24th, 2009 7PM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

If the caliber of officiating in MLS hasn't kept pace with a quicker yet physical style of play, at least referees have toughened up their evaluations of fouls or offenses committed by players already cautioned, and applying stricter standards when deciding whether to hand out a straight red.

Despite this perhaps raising the number of players sent off, it's the only way for officials to call a game properly.

There will always be vigorous debate of players sent off with a straight red card, for the borderline between what is serious foul play (red card) and a reckless tackle (yellow) is a murky one at best. Take the red card issued to Dema Kovalenko a few weeks ago for his two-leg, studs-up tackle on Rapids midfielder Medhi Ballouchy April 11 . If such a dangerous tackle makes some contact with the ball, sometimes referees will let the offender off with a caution, though the danger to the opposing player usually isn't mitigated.

Kovalenko, his teammates, and Coach Bruce Arena protested the call, yet Kovalenko came straight into Ballouchy from the front, went over the ball with his right foot, and for good measure with his left foot hacked the Rapids midfielder on the ankle.

Coaches and, usually defenders almost always howl loudly when a red card comes out for denying a goalscoring opportunity. The myth of the "last man" persists, though this is not stipulated in the rules. Red Bulls right back Carlos Johnson was certainly not the last man when he tripped Herculez Gomez Thursday night in the Kansas City-New York match, but he did deny an "obvious goalscoring opportunity," and off he went.

Kennedy had also let play continue despite a Red Bulls' handball at midfield, so he earns double points. Johnson committed his foul inside the penalty area, and Claudio Lopez converted the penalty kick, so the Red Bulls were a goal down and a man down in the third minute. Rough justice, perhaps, but justice nonetheless.

Handball calls in the penalty area, despite clarifications issued by FIFA over the past decade regarding what constitutes a deliberate offense, are always controversial, especially when a a seemingly innocuous arm-to-ball incident involving Marvell Wynne last weekend resulted in FC Dallas netting the winning goal.

TFC coach John Carver issued a testy criticism of the call and MLS fined him $750. Carver has occasionally uttered some outrageous comments but in this case I have to say he's absolutely right, as there's no way Wynne's arm - extended to his left side, away from the goal - could be at fault when David Ferreira flicked the ball up unexpectedly. In fact, if either player might be deemed guilty of causing the handball deliberately, Ferreira could be more culpable than Wynne.

Returning to the issue of second cautions, for much of league's history, referees seldom showed a yellow to a cautioned player, which resulted in heinous and/or obvious fouls clearly deserving of a card passing without sanction. Of many examples I will only cite the case a few years ago of Landon Donovan, already carrying a yellow card, deliberately pulling the jersey of an opponent so as to kill a counterattack. Despite heated protests, he stayed on the field.

Maybe Donovan escaped sanction on that occasion because of who he is, yet the unwritten rule for players and coaches used to be anything less than a blatant mugging would probably be forgiven, especially if the first caution might be regarded as a softie.

No longer is this the case, as shown when the already-cautioned Paulo Nagumura took down Donovan, ironically, with a sliding tackle in the Galaxy-Chivas USA match April 18, and when Galaxy forward Alan Gordon got hit with a second yellow within three minutes in the same game.

Of course criticism rained down on referee Tim Weyland for "losing control," yet in both cases he simply played it by the book, and did so again in the final minutes when Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter, making his MLS debut, hauled down Alecko Eskandarian to thwart a breakaway. Out came the red card, as it should have.

The game ended with 19 players but is that the fault of Weyland? Hardly. Perhaps he started out by calling the game more tightly than the players, coaches and fans would have liked but that message should have gotten through. Obviously, it didn't.

Players carrying a yellow card, regardless of origin, should regard it for what it is -- official notification from the referee to toe the line -- or pay the consequences.

 



2 comments
  1. Austin Gomez
    commented on: April 24, 2009 at 10:49 p.m.
    Referees are now so sapient and adept and knowledgeable that they are appyling not only the "letter" of the Law, but also (even more importantly) the "spirit" of the Law. The Referees' MAIN Objective is the SAFETY of the 22 Players --- always! If depending upon their Personality, Presence, Communication Skills and Game/Player Management CONTROL Techniques can add "Entertainment" value to the Game's essence, (allowing the Game to "Flow" with its "Risk- Taking" options), that would be greatly. wonderfully desired! And, of course, the Referees are always looking at the "Big Picture" with regard to its Game Control strategies/tactics with regard if the Player and/or Game requires a Misconduct Card! Presently, in MLS's first 5 weeks, the highly-skilled/trained Referees & Assistant Referees & Fourth Officials: all are doing superb officiating in keeping this Game of ours "Most Beautiful"! !Vivan los arbitros y arbitros asistentes y cuartos officiales de MLS! AmG

  1. Kent James
    commented on: April 27, 2009 at 8:04 a.m.
    Ridge is right. The refs are doing a better job with straight reds and second yellows. And this is not easy. But there are few things worse than having rules that are not enforced. It is especially egregious when people who already have yellow cards feel that they have carte blanche to foul because the referee doesn't want to have deal with the hassle of a red card. Now if only referees doing amateur games would have the guts to do what the MLS refs are doing....


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Can these U-17s be the new 99ers?     
In 1999, the USA, with a team that included Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, finished fourth ...
Soccer and labor strife: It's never about the money    
As American sports go, pro soccer has had relative labor peace. Since the only work stoppage ...
Solo still has chance to prove people wrong    
Just how much more rope is U.S. Soccer willing to give Hope Solo?
Hamid becomes a student of the game    
Like for most good goalkeepers, D.C. United's Bill Hamid will tell you the biggest improvement he ...
Three takeaways from Southampton-Liverpool    
A match rife with refereeing controversies ended in a vital 2-0 victory for Liverpool over Southampton ...
Late call from U.S. is no problem for Hedges    
FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges reached a milestone last year when named team captain and he ...
Three takeaways from Schalke 04-Real Madrid     
Real Madrid's Champions League title defense remained on course with a 2-0 away win against Schalke ...
Three takeaways from PSG-Chelsea    
Chelsea returned to its pragmatic ways and rode the goalkeeping of Thibaut Courtois to tie Paris ...
It's time to shutter January camp    
January camp, a tradition of the U.S. men's national team program for more than a quarter ...
Three takeaways from England-USA     
Playing against an England team that seemed to field no offense, the U.S. women still needed ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives