I am happy to say that MLS can't fine me for saying that it is clear that the league has become a joke because of the officials they have hired to officiate matches, in 2 of the last 3 matches at Rio Tinto the officials have made clearly wrong calls that have cost the team points. Now before I sound like a homer on this issue, there have been plenty of other matches that have officials make horrible calls that have cost teams points and in reality cost the league fans.
Tonight you saw an official who made a mistake, and then spent the rest of the match looking for ways he could try to make it up without being obvious about it. Yadar Reyes simply was incompetent in his duties tonight, he was often out of position, as were his AR's and it is an embarrassment to the league and to the players who work so hard to actually play the game. A couple of things are telling, first is that there was only one offside call in the entire match and from my vantage point I saw at least 4 or 5 that weren't called because the officials were out of position. There were only 24 fouls called but 8 cards including two reds, a clear sign that the officials were in over the head from the start.
more thoughts after the jump:
Now before I put all the blame on the officials, I will say that the second goal for New England was a mistake by our wall which allowed the goal (I believe it was Saborio who moved out of position and let the ball by). RSL did battle back despite being a man down, first it was a free kick off the post that was put in by Will Johnson and in the 56th minute a questionable hand ball call against New England gave RSL a PK which allowed them to tie the match at 2-2. Another questionable call gave New England a set piece in the 63rd minute, and when Jamison Olave lost his marking on Shalrie Joseph it was a simple redirect of the free kick that gave New England a 3-2 lead. The official would again make his mark as he showed a soft yellow to Ryan Cochrane, which was his second and resulted in him getting a red card and in the 67th minute RSL would finally be back even as far as the number of players on the pitch.
RSL weren't done, they had dominated every aspect of the match except the scoreboard, at this point they had maintained over 60% of the possession and despite being down a man they had taken more shots 9 to7 over New England. Once the teams were back to even strength it was all RSL as they out shot New England 11-0 over the last 23 minutes and stoppage time of the match. RSL almost evened the score when Will Johnson's free kick was saved by Matt Reis but Saborio's effort on the rebound went off the crossbar. Then it was a great pass by Saborio that found a charging Fabian Espindola who put it past Reis and into the back of the net to tie it at 3-3.
RSL continued to battle and fight for the win but were unable to get another ball into the back of the net. So while I can cast a lot of blame for this match on the officials and it is clear that the result of the match was greatly impacted in the 3rd minute of the match when the official clearly made a mistake. RSL made a couple of mistakes that New England took advantage of, but considering that for 64 minutes RSL had to battle a man down, it was simply amazing that RSL continued to dominate every aspect of the match. I am very proud of the effort that RSL's players made in the face of what clearly was unprofessional officiating.
Until MLS and US Soccer step up and do something about these types of situations the sport of soccer and Major League Soccer will continue to take steps backwards from becoming a mainstream sport in this US. It is sad when fans like me are no longer surprised when things like this happen, when we become so jaded to the quality of the officials that we simply wait for the moment in a match when they will make a mistake that will impact the outcome of the match. Instead MLS initiates a crack down on fans chanting "YSA", well I have a feeling they are about to hear much worse from the fans if they don't do something about the officials.
The players, coaches, owners, and fans all deserve better than this. MLS must work with US Soccer to hire more full time officials and then provide them with more training and fitness work to ensure they can have both the mental and physical ability to call a match. I find it hard to believe that each owner wouldn't kick in $100,000 towards a pool for the hiring of real professional officials and to help with their training. The time for action is now, and I fear if it isn't taken that fans will begin leaving the stands and their seats in disgust.
OFF MY SOAPBOX