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Mulholland’s Disciplinary Committee ban is RSL’s 4th in 2017 when no card shown

RSL players keep getting punished. Why aren’t referees seeing these things first?

Soccer: Manchester United at Real Salt Lake Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

If it seems like MLS Disciplinary Committee decisions have been particularly harsh this year, you’re probably not alone.

I don’t know that they’ve been harsh, but already this season, we’ve seen four suspensions for incidents in which no card was given in the run of play. Two of those featured no fouls being called at all.

And here’s the thing — maybe each of them is individually deserved, but in aggregate, we’re continuing to see a worrying pattern. Players are too often being suspended for incidents that referee judgment should have some say in.

It raises some interesting questions. Are PRO referees being undermined by a committee that has no active referee involved? It sure looks that way. Is there a lack of faith in refereeing decisions made at game speed? I don’t think we can doubt that at this point.

And here’s the thing — I’d love to make this about Real Salt Lake, but I really don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think this is systemic bias against us, but I do think there’s systemic bias against the abilities of referees to make in-game decisions.

Sure, we’ve all been critical of referees. I’ll leave it up to you if there’s progress being made here. I can’t dictate your opinions, nor would I want to. It sounds like an awful lot of work. But one thing I think we can all be certain of is that there’s a major frustration when two sides are seemingly at odds, and if our referees aren’t getting things right, then maybe we need to shift our focus away from post-facto punishment of players.

RSL players suspended this year (date is the match for which they were suspended):