After the emotional Comets loss to Baltimore in the MASL playoffs there were a few controversies. One of those issues was taken care of quickly when the Comets released a player but one was generated by comments from Comets head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
Andonovski had said after the match, "Frustration was just going throughout the game and as much as I don't want to comment on the referees, an hour and a half before the game, the Baltimore owner was on the phone with Ryan Cigich (the referee crew chief)."
This statement seemed to generate a lot of controversy as both Ed Hale and Ryan Cigich reported they did not talk by phone, but in person. People then got hung on the words phone call to make it sound like Andonovski made it up.
Wanting to set the record straight, Andonovski explained ""I got out of the car and Ed was sitting on the wall at the back of the Independence Event Center and he was just finishing up a phone call. He walks towards me and I towards him. He said hi, how are you doing? Then his first words were I just talked to or I talked with Ryan Cigich. I was under the impression that he just finished a phone call with Ryan. He (Ed) said they were talking about referees in Monterey, we've got to have a good crew and how we had to have a good experience crew of referees there."
Andonovski continued, "How I knew he talked to Ryan for sure was what he told me about how some referees have not been paid in the league. He told me Tulsa hasn't paid referees, Wichita hasn't paid some referees. That is stuff that only Ryan Cigich would know."
"I did not even know Ryan was the ref that night until he walked into our room to get the roster."
Trying to make sure he was clearing things up, Andonovski explained he had heard from Cigich about the controversy. "Ryan sent me an email saying they (Cigich and Hale) did not talk on the phone, they talked in the hallway."
Andonovski coaches both the Comets and the defending NWSL Champions FC Kansas City and feels that referees should not be chatting with owners before matches.. "Whether it's the Women's League or the indoor league or any league it shouldn't happen. Even if the referee does everything great it still should not happen. Even if we had won the game it should not happen."
"Baltimore beat us fair and square," Andonovski stated. "I can't say anything more about that I can't say a thing other than well done. Schedule, travel, I can complain about those things but on the field I can't complain about the players. Baltimore beat us."
Referee decisions can be debated on the best of days but after the emotions and controversy of a match like this, even more so. From a Comets' fan point of view, calls may have favored the visiting Baltimore. Cards given to Comets players and coaches for dissent/language that Baltimore did not receive as one example.
At no time did Andonovski say that Ed Hale or Ryan Cigich intentionally did something wrong but he was clearly trying to make sure there is no sign of influence.