[MLS SPOTLIGHT] There will be repercussions aplenty from Real Salt Lake's defeat of San Jose Saturday in which a dive by Alvaro Saborio yielded a penalty kick and red card that triggered a four-goal onslaught and a few vituperative moments by keeper Jon Busch.
There’s not much question that poor officiating utterly transformed the game. The only question is what will the league – and perhaps RSL coach Jason Kreis – do about a dive by Alvaro Saborio that produced a red card and penalty kick. Kreis has stated several times he rather not see his players play-act. MLS also needs to take a look at wildly unpleasant displays by Quakes’ goalkeeper Jon Busch, who gestured rudely in the wake of Saborio’s successful penalty kick, and at the final whistle barked something at Kreis that prompted the coach to charge after him as they left the field.
But first, let’s give referee David Gantar and referee’s assistant Colin Arblaster credit for properly disallowing a Nat Borchers goal in the 57th minute. On a free kick from midfield, Borchers got a little too anxious and broke the line of the last defender before the kick was taken. He put away the chance with a nice header but up went the flag. That call was spot-on, though numerous postings from RSL fans labeled it erroneous.
A few minutes later, a tight, goalless game blew up. Saborio chased a ball into the penalty area and when he veered with the ball between two opponents, down he went. Referee Gantar rushed up to the scene and pulled out a red card, which prompted furious protests from outraged Quakes, who were sure Saborio would be cautioned for diving.
Replays showed Saborio cutting cleanly between midfielder Brad Ring and defender Bobby Burling, and upon slight contact with Burling, Saborio self-tangled his ankles and went down dramatically.
Unfortunately, not only did the match officials buy it, but Gantar at first showed the red card to Ring, whose expression turned from disbelief to shock. Captain Chris Wondolowski berated Gantar as he went to consult with Arblaster; after a few seconds, Gantar instead waved the card at Burling, which was hardly what the Quakes had in mind.
Burling departed in a fury, Saborio put away the penalty, and as the teams moved back upfield for the kickoff, Busch stuck out one of the digits on his big glove toward the RSL bench and/or referee Gantar, and it was not a thumbs-up gesture. The Quakes, their shelf of backup centerbacks already bare, moved Ring into the middle of defense alongside regular right back Chris Leitch with predictable consequences.
RSL potted three more goals past the 10-man Quakes, several of whom again barked at Gantar after the final whistle. As Busch walked toward the exit tunnel, he shouted something at Kreis, who was a few yards away, Kreis immediately bolted toward him and needed to be blocked off by staff members and security personnel.
“Obviously Jon came and said something about my team,” said Kreis to mlssoccer.com, “a comment that I didn’t much appreciate, and then walked away very quickly before he gave me a chance to respond. And so I felt it very necessary that he should hear my response.”
Said Quakes coach Frank Yallop, “It’s up to the referee to make sure it is a penalty kick. That changed the game — red card, penalty, goal. You’re screwed after that. ... It all hinges on one play, and that’s frustrating for us.”
Busch’s antics won’t be the only evidence to be reviewed by the league’s Disciplinary Committee. He wasn’t impressed with Gantar’s performance overall, particularly with the amount of contact allowed in situations other than Saborio’s tumble.
“You just get frustrated because the referee needs to see that stuff,” said Busch. “And he’s not seeing it. And that’s what makes you frustrated, because everyone else can see a clear push or clear foul, and the guy who needs to see it doesn’t.”
Last month, the committee fined Charlie Davies of D.C. United $1,000 for a dive against RSL that earned United a penalty kick.