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You are not alone in wondering about Jair's performance last night

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HOUSTON - APRIL 01:  Goalkeeper Pat Onstad #18 of the Houston Dynamo deflects the ball away on a corner-kick in the second half against Real Salt Lake on April 1, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - APRIL 01: Goalkeeper Pat Onstad #18 of the Houston Dynamo deflects the ball away on a corner-kick in the second half against Real Salt Lake on April 1, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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So I know that Jason has learned his lesson on questioning officials, he has paid enough in fines and served enough suspensions.  Fans of a losing side will almost always find something wrong with the officials, but you know when the main stream media starts to question the officials and MLS's choice of officials in week two of a 30 week season that something is up.

Well Michael C. Lewis of the Salt Lake Tribune is calling out MLS and Jair Marrufo, and he has reason to:

You might have noticed that the referee who whistled those two fouls on RSL's Jamison Olave was none other than Jair Marrufo, the former referee of the year - geez, who was voting in 2008? - who was suspended for the last two months of last season due to "poor performances" and a laundry list of strange and controversial officiating decisions.

So what deserves a PK anyhow?  well after the jump read the official rules:

US Soccer provides a link to the Laws of the Game

From there we find Law 12 Fouls and Misconduct

Direct Free Kick
A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offenses in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

• kicks or attempts to kick an opponent

• trips or attempts to trip an opponent

• jumps at an opponent

• charges an opponent

• strikes or attempts to strike an opponent

• pushes an opponent

• tackles an opponent

A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following three offenses:

• holds an opponent

• spits at an opponent

• handles the ball deliberately (except for the

goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

A direct free kick is taken from the place
where the offense occurred (see Law 13- Position of Free Kick)

Penalty Kick
A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above ten offenses is committed by a player inside his own penalty area,
irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.

So you be the judge

The harsh reality is that you could grant them the first PK call, but clearly the second wasn't a foul as Landin was already on the ground and had lost possession of the ball.  We know that MLS has issues with their officials in the past and this official in particular, I am confused why you would use an official who clearly had problems with these two teams in the same stadium last year.  It isn't like there were 8 matches going on and you were out of options, it is fairly clear that in critical situations that officials can, and far too often do impact the match.

If an official wants to call a match tightly, I am fine with that but it must go both ways and it clearly wasn't the case last night as RSL was called for 14 fouls and Houston just 6.  Go back and rewatch the match and you will see that clearly things that were called against one side were not called the same when done by Houston.  

It will be two late when next week US Soccer posts the second PK call as a bad call in their Referee Week in Review, the point has been taken away from RSL, the momentum of their road start has been stopped cold and all because someone didn't have the foresight to think before hiring an official who shouldn't be in the league, and then on top of that mistake assigned him to a match in which his bizarre behavior lead to him being suspended last year.

I recommend that all fans of the MLS spend time each week looking at the Referee review done by US Soccer, it provides some real insight into what is going right and what is going wrong in the league.  

That being said
I am unwilling to blame the loss solely on the official, RSL played well for stretches of the match, but didn't put together a 90 minute performance.  I thought several players were flat and off in the match and RSL failed to keep control in the midfield, a good part of that could be the very narrow pitch and while the rule book says the width must only be 50 yards for play, International matches must be a minimum of 70 yards.

The loss will be a harsh reminder to RSL, they aren't going to be given anything and will need to continue to fight and take what they want in this league.  Next week comes in media darlings Seattle, again don't expect to be treated like the home team, don't expect any favors from the officials.  Do what you do best, play and fight as a team, and take control of the match and keep it.

OFF MY SOAPBOX