MLS Playoffs: Sporting KC demands apology from league

Sporting Kansas City did everything possible but score against Seattle, which was saved time and again by the goalkeeping of Stefan Frei, and when it exited, 1-0, in MLS's Knockout Round on Nelson Valdez's controversial goal in the 88th minute, Sporting coach Peter Vermes was not a happy man.

Paulo Nagamura, a veteran of seven MLS playoff seasons, will wonder what it will take to get his first playoff goal as Frei twice denied him early in the first half and laid the rebound of his second shot off to Graham Zusi, who hit the far post.

Frei made saves on Kevin Ellis, Seth Sinovic and Benny Feilhaber, who broke through the Sounders defense, but was thankful that Matt Besler was ruled offside on his goal off Feilhaber's free kick in the 53rd minute.

Valdez appeared to be equally offside when he away Joevin Jones' cross in the 88th minute, but the goal stood for the Paraguayan DP's first goal of the season after going scoreless in 24 regular-season games.

Vermes was fuming for that ruling, along with the decision by referee Ismail Elfath to not once but twice keep Sounders captain Osvaldo Alonso on the field for fouls that might have earned him an ejection (yellow card, not red, for foul on Roger Espinoza in the first half and no second card for a foul on Feilhaber in the 67th minute).

"They scored their goal on an offsides play," Vermes said. "Referee misses it, changes the outcome of the game. I would tell you, in my opinion and for our organization, I think that PRO and Major League Soccer owe our club an absolute apology because this game was taken away from us today."

Oct. 27 in Seattle
Seattle 1 Sporting KC 0.
SEA: Nelson Valdez (Joevin Jones) 88
Seattle -- Frei; Mears, Torres, Marshall, J.Jones; Alonso, Friberg (Valdez 79), Roldan, Lodeiro, Fernandez (Evans 86); Morris.
Sporting KC -- Melia; Abdul-Salaam, Ellis, Besler, Sinovic (Medranda 90); Feilhaber, Mustivar, Nagamura (Peterson 92+); Zusi, Dwyer, Espinoza.
Yellow Cards: Seattle -- Alonso 32; Sporting KC -- Sinovic 63, Feilhaber 71, Espinoza 93+.
Att.: 36,151.
17 comments about "MLS Playoffs: Sporting KC demands apology from league".
  1. Paul Cox, October 28, 2016 at 8:30 a.m.

    KC had 18 fouls in the game, none for persistent infringement. Elfath verbally warned Feilhaber twice about it but never showed him a yellow.

    I think Elfath is back to his old bad habits of waiting too long to show a yellow, and that Vermes should shush. Also, Borg didn't mention that the reason the AR doesn't call Valdez offside is because the AR's view is blocked by another Sounder towards the near sideline; if he can't see offside, he can't call it.

  2. beautiful game, October 28, 2016 at 10:32 a.m.

    Elfath's dereliction in not properly controlling the players is disgraceful. It's obvious that his officiating style has been remolded since his MLS inauguration by the league kahunas. His "warning" to Feilhaber for persistent fouling "1,2,3" was total incompetence.

  3. Ben Lukas, October 28, 2016 at 10:35 a.m.

    Yes, the game was about hard knocks. Alexi Lalas on the TV commentary explains that calls should be different in the playoffs, so fouls are ignored and cards stay in the pocket. (Of couse, Lalas was a low skill thug defender so he would apologize for such poor officiating.)
    Meanwhile, Alonso is on the field after breaking up a breaking away in a way that draws a card in any other competition in the world. And almost breaking Feilhaber's leg too.
    Really MLS, you gotta stop the thuggery and let skill beat brute force...

  4. charles davenport replied, October 28, 2016 at 11:12 a.m.

    agreed; Lalas did play in Italy, after all.

  5. R2 Dad, October 28, 2016 at 10:48 a.m.

    This swarming of the referee itself is a cardable offense--wonder when PRO will decide they should address that?

  6. Ginger Peeler, October 28, 2016 at 12:23 p.m.

    Funny, I thought Alexi was arguing that all of the calls SHOULD be consistent with those made during the regular season. He even brought it up several times. The swarming of the referee got old very fast. In the same vein, Feilhaber's determined efforts to get at the referee were also cardable. Have all of the MLS referees been compromised by the head office?

  7. Wooden Ships, October 28, 2016 at 12:38 p.m.

    I heard what you heard Ginger, with regard to Alexi. MLS does need to officiate on the side of the technical. I've always believed that better play influences better refereeing and vice versa. The league needs to convene all interested parties to agree to go in that direction. Again officiating is the most difficult role in sport. I'm grateful we have people that are willing. I did enjoy watching the game. It wasn't a perfect game nor the officiating. I was again reminded of how truly skilled and dangerous Benny is. A shame he, for whatever reasons, hasn't been our #10 for the last 5 years on the National team.

  8. Kevin Lash, October 28, 2016 at 12:47 p.m.

    Karma. Aurelien Collin should not have been on the field to score the MLS Cup-winning goal against RSL.

  9. Normand Conquest replied, November 1, 2016 at 11:30 p.m.

    Not quite karma enough, this is just a playoff game and not the final.

  10. Ginger Peeler, October 28, 2016 at 2:04 p.m.

    WS, I agree. I think one of the comments last night was about Feilhaber being the best player on the field. My problem with the refs is PRO - The Professional Referees Organization. Apparently, they came into their association with MLS in 2012. At that time, we, MLS, had one of the best referees in the world! Mark Geiger. I used to watch him before he received the honor of refereeing games in the 2014 World Cup. So, it's 2016 now and what have they (PRO) done with our referee, Mark?!! It's as if he's a victim of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers! He doesn't call clean, tight games anymore. He does the little talks with offending players. He lets a lot of stuff go (compared to how he used to call games). He's just not the same referee anymore. As with last night, the players' safety no longer seems to be one of the major responsibilities of the referee. We have lost a world class referee and don't seem to have anymore being produced by PRO. How do we fix this?

  11. Tork Johnson, October 28, 2016 at 2:26 p.m.

    Kevin Lash-
    You beat me to it. Absolutely correct.

  12. beautiful game, October 28, 2016 at 3:33 p.m.

    Ginger P., Geiger voluntarily fell victim to the system and compromised himself...I doubt that the system would have thrown him out if he did his job on the pitch.

  13. John Stark, October 28, 2016 at 4:54 p.m.

    Some think that calls should be different in the playoffs(so fouls are ignored and cards stay in the pocket)so the referee has less impact on the game, but the non-calls have more impact on the game.
    It has been said that the AR could not see the offside on the goal. This is a good case for having video reviews

  14. R2 Dad, October 29, 2016 at 12:16 a.m.

    Who makes the video content that was retracted above? IIRC, it's someone who assesses referee performance but I can't remember his name. Anyone recall?

  15. Margaret Manning, October 29, 2016 at 2:22 p.m.

    Happy to give Vermes that offside call in exchange for the 2013 Open Cup.

  16. Margaret Manning replied, October 29, 2016 at 2:23 p.m.

    *2012 Open Cup.

  17. beautiful game, October 29, 2016 at 10:34 p.m.

    Walton needs to be FIRED!!!!!

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