Opinion: Why does RSL pick up so many yellow cards?

USA TODAY Sports

Time to pull out the tin foil hats.

I know people will immediately dismiss this as a bitter fan upset that his team lost but I assure you that is not the case.

What does the league and its referees have against Real Salt Lake?

Seriously.

Did you watch the last game? Of course RSL had no business even being in that game with only 2 starters even playing at all (one of the 2 being sick enough that he was subbed out). I'm not saying that Dallas didn't deserve the win necessarily but I am saying that the result was not fair.

First let's review the last game then we'll get to the bigger issues.

How is a two-footed studs exposed challenge (by Jackson?) not a red card every single time (or at least a yellow)? How did RSL get a card for diving when there was in fact contact and the player jumped up immediately and continued playing? How did Cooper not get a yellow for diving when he went down in the box faked an injury for a minute and looked at the ref and just got a talking to? How did Jackson or Ferreirra not get a yellow card for diving when considering what Alvarez got carded for? How does RSL get 4 cards and Dallas gets zero? How is their not a PK for the pulling down with both hands Sandoval as he turned to try and shoot a half volley (almost immediately after Garcia's header that he nearly scored immediately after coming in) in the box?

That was just one game, and I'm sure I missed some things. This happens pretty much every single week.

Now to the bigger issue..Why it seems like the league or at least the refs are against RSL.

For this year alone RSL is currently in a 4 way tie for 10th in fouls committed with 46 for the year. So teams that have the same or more fouls committed would be Chivas (76), NYRB (65), Sporting (62), Chicago (54), Montreal (49), Colorado (48), Columbus (48), Toronto and San Jose (47), and finally Philadelphia, New England, Dc United and RSL (46). Considering that RSL is tied for 10th with 4 teams they could easily be 14th in fouls committed.

Here is the kicker; RSL is 3rd in yellow cards. Chivas is first with 11, then Sporting with 10, then RSL with 9 (and a red). Chivas' rate of fouls committed to yellow cards received is 6.91, Sporting is at 6.1 and RSL is the league leader at 5. This means about every 5th time RSL commits a foul they are shown a yellow card. Here is a table I've made to show the league numbers:

Team

Yellow Cards

Fouls Committed

Yellow card per foul

Chivas

11

76

6.9

Sporting

10

61

6.1

RSL

9

45

5

NYRB

8

67

8.375

Chicago

6

54

9

Toronto

6

47

7.833333333

Colorado

5

50

10

LA

5

34

6.8

Montreal

5

50

10

Columbus

4

47

11.75

DC

4

47

11.75

Philadelphia

4

47

11.75

Seattle

4

41

10.25

New England

3

46

15.3

Portland

3

38

12.7

San Jose

3

46

15.3

Houston

3

44

14.7

Vancouver

2

32

16.0

FC Dallas

1

39

39.0

League totals

96

911

9.5

Is Dallas basically getting away with murder right now? Pretty much. Is RSL almost exactly the opposite? Pretty much. One thing I found pretty surprising is that LA is getting carded at a higher than league average rate. So at least for this year we can say that they aren't being favored in that regard.

Here would be the table for last year:

Team

Yellow Cards

Fouls Committed

Yellow card per foul

Vancouver

69

481

6.971014493

RSL

60

444

7.4

San Jose

59

440

7.457627119

NYRB

59

410

6.949152542

Seattle

57

442

7.754385965

Philadelphia

55

464

8.436363636

Montreal

55

427

7.763636364

Sporting

55

456

8.290909091

Portland

55

388

7.054545455

LA

55

421

7.654545455

Columbus

54

412

7.62962963

Toronto

53

428

8.075471698

Chivas

53

424

8

DC

48

390

8.125

Chicago

46

349

7.586956522

Houston

43

372

8.651162791

FC Dallas

40

420

10.5

New England

39

360

9.230769231

Colorado

38

415

10.92105263

League Total

993

7943

7.998992951

And just for fun here is one more year 2011's numbers:

Team

Yellow Cards

Fouls Committed

Yellow card per foul

San Jose

66

401

6.075757576

Seattle

64

430

6.71875

RSL

60

443

7.383333333

NYRB

60

420

7

Chicago

60

466

7.766666667

LA

60

396

6.6

Colorado

59

374

6.338983051

Sporting

56

425

7.589285714

Vancouver

55

451

8.2

FC Dallas

54

413

7.648148148

New England

53

400

7.547169811

Toronto

53

414

7.811320755

Houston

52

396

7.615384615

Columbus

49

413

8.428571429

Chivas

48

387

8.0625

Philadelphia

48

400

8.333333333

Portland

48

347

7.229166667

DC

43

383

8.906976744

League Total

988

7359

7.448380567

The totals since 2011:

Team

Yellow cards since 2011

Fouls Committed since 2011

Yellow per foul

Chivas

112

887

7.919643

Columbus

107

872

8.149533

FC Dallas

95

872

9.178947

Montreal*

60

477

7.95

Houston

98

812

8.285714

LA

120

851

7.091667

Portland

106

773

7.292453

Philadelphia

107

911

8.514019

Sporting

121

942

7.785124

San Jose

128

887

6.929688

Vancouver

126

964

7.650794

NYRB

127

897

7.062992

Toronto

112

889

7.9375

RSL

129

932

7.224806

Colorado

102

839

8.22549

DC

95

820

8.631579

Seattle

125

913

7.304

New England

95

806

8.484211

Chicago

112

869

7.758929

League Total

2077

16213

7.80597

*Montreal was not in the league in 2011.

Some interesting things to take out of this; RSL's current yellow card to foul rate is a historic level. Getting a yellow card per 5 fouls is such a high rate. To put into perspective that is almost double the lowest rate in a full season when Colorado only got a yellow every 10 fouls in 2012. Only LA, San Jose, and NYRB get yellow cards at a higher rate than RSL. I don't think anyone who has watched the league would be surprised at NYRB or San Jose getting a lot of cards, I'm not going to say they are a dirty team but let's just say they aren't the cleanest teams. LA is also not surprising because they have a lot of confrontations and Beckham mouthing off to refs in nearly every game. To be honest I thought they would be even higher just from my own observations.

The question is why is RSL so high? It is a tactical reason? Do Kreis, Cassar and Brown teach RSL to be over aggressive? I'll be the first to vilify and admit sometimes certain players have definitely crossed the line and made some dirty plays (Beckerman, Johnson, Espy, etc.) but I never once have thought any RSL player was trying to injure the other team. Even when they cross the line they do it in a safer way, I would never think an RSL player would pull a Mullan or Mondaini type of tackle. Would a RSL player head-butt someone or make a tackle that would hurt (but not injure) a player to send a message? Absolutely. Would they try and injure someone, I really doubt it.

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