Something a little rare has happened today thanks to PRO, the referee organization aligned with MLS. In the wake of the controversy surrounding the LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers match this past weekend, Utah resident Allen Chapman has been removed as the center referee for the match this weekend between Real Salt Lake and the Vancouver Whitecaps at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Chapman has been lambasted by many for his performance in the LA vs PTFC match he officiated this past weekend, and probably rightfully so. In a very physical match that had several red card worthy tackles, Chapman seemed to lose control very early on and never really regained it. One of the tackles that probably deserved a red but was only given a yellow was the much maligned Nigel de Jong challenge on Darlington Nagbe.
The reasons for the change are not entirely spelled out by PRO in the announcement and it could come down to any number of reasons as to why Chapman was replaced. In a conference call earlier this year PRO General Manager Peter Walton stated that they analyze the performance of referees heavily and in cases of poor performances offending officials will see fewer assignments. We are not likely to know if this is actually the reason behind the change, but the timing seems interesting.
Chapman has an interesting past when officiating RSL matches, especially recently. In the last 6 matches where he was in the center Salt Lake has gone 3-2-1 with 8 pks and 1 red card given. His replacement, Ismail Elfath, similarly has been less than a fan favorite for RSL fans with Salt lake 0-3-4 with 4 red cards and 2 pks in his last 6 matches.
While we can’t say which would have been better for RSL this weekend, the change could impact mentality or preparation on the part of both teams going into this one.