The tedious Martyrdom of Marsch -- but he happens to be right

By Paul Gardner

The New Jersey Red Bulls, it seems to me, had every reason to be miffed after their 2-2 tie with the Galaxy. They had seen their 2-0 lead snatched away by a spirited late Galaxy comeback.

But the Bulls felt they should have had a PK when Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe brought down Alex Muyl. Then, with the score at 2-2, the Bulls staged their own comeback. Again they were thwarted by another “save” from Rowe. This time he barreled into Gonzalo Veron.

I say “save” rather than save, because it would be the Bulls’ contention that both challenges were fouls, as Rowe dived at the feet of first Muyl and then Veron, sending each player sprawling. Fouls that, in the Bulls’ eyes, should have resulted in penalty kicks.

Well, just one of them would have been OK, but referee Hilario Grajeda nixed both of them. Earlier in the game, the Galaxy thought it might get a PK when Steven Gerrard went down, but Grajeda turned that one down too.

Let me get one thing out of the way, something that is clouding my judgment. I refer to the absolutely dreadful post-game whine from Bulls coach Jesse Marsch. A long, peevish, childish, moan telling us how great and wonderful all his players are, that this shouldn’t be happening to his team, and how can it be understood?

And so on.

A righteousness that is quite out of place. Utterly puke-inducing. Marsch has been having his troubles -- caused by his own intemperate comments on referees -- so he carefully left the ref out of this whining tirade, and thus failed to make the real point, which was “We wuz robbed!”

Marsch needs to work on his inability to understand that his team will sometimes lose games they deserved to win, and will get referee calls going against them. Standing up for his players is one thing. But trying to dress himself as a suffering martyr is something quite different.

So, overlooking the tiresome Martyrdom of Marsch, I’m on his side here. I think they were robbed. They should have had at least one penalty kick late in the game.

My interest now becomes one of trying to understand Grajeda’s decisions. And the first point to consider, is that both appeals involved the Galaxy goalkeeper. That complicates matters.

I have no doubt that had a Galaxy field player charged into Muyl or Veron with the abandon shown by Rowe a penalty kick would have been called. The judgment that has to be made is quite simple: were Rowe’s challenges careless or reckless? That is what is needed to satisfy the rulebook, enough to mean that the referee must  call a foul ... and therefore a penalty.

Careless: “when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution.” Reckless: “when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent ...”

There really doesn’t need to be much discussion on this point. We know, because goalkeepers and their supporters have told us time and again, that when a goalkeeper goes for the ball, he must get it, regardless of who is in his way (that includes teammates as well as opponents.

This is an attitude that enjoys wide acceptance in the game -- heaven knows why. Earlier this year, during a telecast of a Premier League game between Swansea City and Aston Villa, Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan came out for a cross, missed it and allowed Swansea to score. He was roundly criticized by commentator Danny Mills (a former England fullback): “If he comes for that, he’s gotta clean everything out.” Everything meaning everyone. A year ago, we had Lee Dixon (former Arsenal and England defender) commenting “If you’re gonna come out as a goalkeeper, you take everything in your way, you take the players, the ball ...”

Violent thinking that is bound to result in violent action. If it is accepted by referees, you can see why goalkeepers get away with challenges that would likely be carded if committed by other players. Evidently, Grajeda thinks that way.

Why should that be so? What guidance does Grajeda get from PRO on situations like this? Strictly speaking, no guidance should be necessary, other than to apply the rules. But the rules are far too often read as though they do not apply to goalkeepers. This is a state of affairs that defies common sense, and for which no justification exists. PRO could greatly help by making it clear to its members that as far as being careless or reckless or using excessive force, the same rules must be applied to goalkeepers as to field players.

5 comments about "The tedious Martyrdom of Marsch -- but he happens to be right ".
  1. Ric Fonseca, August 9, 2016 at 2:40 p.m.

    Boring commentary on a boooooring jesse marsch. PG must've forgotten that marsch has always been this way, jeez, memba' when he tacked Beckham from behind and knocked him on the groin, and what happened> He was crying 'cause Beckham was the better player/person out there and seemed to be showing him a thing or two!!!

  2. Thomas Sullivan, August 9, 2016 at 4:16 p.m.

    Paul, Keep fighting the good fight and your stand for the beautiful game is much appreciated. GKers get way too much leeway for their fouls which is plain wrong. They get a lot of protection from fouls when they are vulnerable and they should but you can't have it both ways.

  3. beautiful game, August 9, 2016 at 5:17 p.m.

    Judgment call by Grajeda...his biggest problem was not calling the PK, but letting players get away with fouls that the laws of the game are explicit about. This is a global epidemic by the refs for not enforcing fair play.

  4. R2 Dad, August 9, 2016 at 5:49 p.m.

    For that first contact I can see not wanting to give the foul because the ball was running away and so no DOGSO and maybe no yellow card. But the foul must be called. And no good deed goes unpunished, as the keeper came out for a second time, emboldened by the first non-call, and repeats the foul. All Grajeda had to do was whistle a foul, and his first error would have been forgotten instead of multiplied. Curious what PRO had to say, since you can't go back retroactively to punish, only relief when the cards are too harsh for the crime.

  5. Wooden Ships, August 9, 2016 at 9:07 p.m.

    Glad I intentionally didn't watch post game. By that time you need to be composed and non adolescent. Future USMNT manager, hardly. Keepers know that if you don't get ball before man, you're lucky not to be facing it from 12. Tough today deciding between legit and embellishment. Easier on replay.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications