It’s been a few weeks, so apparently it was time for another refereeing debacle. Sporting Kansas City faced off against Minnesota United on the road and battled to a 0-0 draw despite being down a man for nearly 80 minutes when you add in stoppage time.
In the post-game press conference, Peter Vermes was unhappy. No excuses, just unhappy. The center referee, Marcos de Oliveira, was consistently, inconsistent. The unofficial motto of PRO Referees.
When asked about the red card Remi Walter received in the 21st minute, Vermes gave basically one answer over the first six plus minutes of the press conference. I recommend you watch it, but here are the quotes courtesy of SportingKC.com.
“Up until the point of the red card, I think we had 72% possession. We were creating good stuff away from home and playing really well. The red card happens and I’ve had a chance to see it. I see (Remi Walter) going to poke (the ball) and he pulls his leg back. The player makes a meal of it and the referee gives him a red. I find it incredibly difficult to accept that in the game, whenever we got the ball, they would foul us in a tactical move. I understand that. But it’s the referee’s job to be the one who deals with that.
Cam Duke was fouled many times within the first 20 minutes of the game and didn’t even get a call. It blows me away. Four yellow cards and a red (for Sporting) to two yellow cards (for Minnesota). There are things I understand and things I don’t understand. If you want to get to the game, I would tell you that it says a lot about our team to be able to go up against this challenge week in and week out.
Our guys are up for the challenge and they bring it. No matter what the circumstances are, they go to fight. I have incredible respect for the group of guys in that locker room because they know it, they feel it, they see it, they experience it. Unfortunately they don’t get the respect they deserve. And like always, I don’t ask for people to make stuff up. But the stuff that gets handed down to us and the fouls that don’t get called and the guys that don’t get the respect on the field, it’s just disgusting. I’m disgusted with it. I’m proud of our guys. They fought with a great mentality. To get a point against a good team like we played today-which Minnesota is a very good team with a lot of different weapons coming off the bench-and to play at their place with 10 men for the time that we had to, that was big time.
There are certain things that I can comprehend and other things that I just cannot. When I say respect, I talk about respect for the players when they get fouled. The fact that guys on my team don’t dive and try to fight through tackles and you can’t realize that as you’re calling a game? My guys respect the game. He respects the way he’s playing. He actually respects the referee because he’s not trying to dupe him. He’s not trying to get the call. I call that respect. I call it a lack of respect when guys on our team are running through full stride, get tackled and don’t’ get a call. A guy on the other team comes into the game, our guys chase him down, we have two guys around him, he falls down and our guy gets a yellow card. If you want to give that, I’ll accept it. But do it for us as well. And it doesn’t happen. It’s sad. Time and time again, I’m disgusted with it.
The incredible thing is that our team, left and right, fights our it. That’s our mentality. They aren’t going to be denied. They’re going to work for it. I give them all of the respect in the world for that piece.”
Respect. 14 times. Rodney Dangerfield would be jealous. Vermes pointed out the discrepancy in fouls, with Minnesota earning far more fouls but somehow many less cards. I’m in agreement that there were several challenges where counter attacks were stopped, that were yellows for SKC and just regular fouls for Minnesota. Inconsistent. Not to mention persistent infringement fouls.
Let’s look at the two most controversial plays in of the game.
The Called Red Card
Here are a couple angles on the red card given to Remi Walter.
Seems Reynoso got the studs directly to the pic.twitter.com/8PcE2XFuTf— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) August 21, 2021
On first look, it’s easy to see why a red card is given. It looks really bad on the live angle (not shown). But it’s the second replay of the ones above that’s the key. Walter pokes for the ball, misses and pulls his leg back. It looks like he doesn’t get him with the studs and it’s a definite yellow card.
The referee is even signaled by the VAR to go look at a replay. That means, there is enough doubt in the VAR’s mind that it shouldn’t be a red. In fact, you don’t send them over unless you think the call should be reversed. However, the ref watches the video play for literally four seconds, one angle, and immediately jogs away convinced he got it right. ESPN did a fantastic job because they showed us the angle the ref was looking at, even if he barely gave it a glance.
For me, it’s not a red. It’s a bad challenge, but he’s making a play on the ball and he tries to pull out of it. Emanuel Reynoso goes full Neymar and does a couple rolls, but I’m not convinced as it looked more like he kneed him in the thigh than where he was insinuating. It feels like the ref didn’t want to change his initial call and he had his mind made up to only look at it so briefly.
I understand, once it’s called a red card, it has to be clear and obvious to overturn it. Maybe it didn’t mean that standard for the ref. Also, I’ve heard the argument that it could be denial of a goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) but Minnesota are really far from goal and Luis Martins is also inline with the play, so I’m not buying that. Martins has made some great recovery runs this year and he probably can get to Reynoso or at least cut down his angle significantly.
Whatever your thoughts on the Walter red, there is no denying it’s inconsistent with calls earlier in the game.
The Dibassy Yellow on Pulido
In the 6th minute Bikaye Dibassy was given a yellow card for a violent challenge against Sporting Kansas City striker Alan Pulido. I’ve got a couple angles for you, excuse the poor video quality of my gif, technical issues.
August 21, 2021
Another look at that foul against Pulido. #SportingKC pic.twitter.com/6dbYrLrtOD— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) August 22, 2021
You can see Dibassy makes no play on the ball (in fact it’s gone before he gets there) and he goes full WWE with a clothesline of Pulido where he both knees him in the leg and comes across the neck/chest with his arm. Marcos de Oliveira deemed that challenge only worthy of a yellow. I’d argue, as Chad Reynolds does in his Tweet, that Dibassy was making an intentional play to foul Pulido to stop a counter. He makes no attempt to not contact Pulido, unlike Walter who tries to pull out of the challenge when he’s late. And the Dibassy challenge is equally, if not more, violent.
The problem is inconsistency. If both plays are yellow, we can disagree potentially, but at least it’s consistent.
The worst part of it all, is that Alan Pulido apparently picked up an injury. Vermes said, “He got hurt and it was a consequence of that tackle. What can I tell you?” Pulido did play on, but I noticed him limping at times and Taylor Twellman said on the broadcast Pulido arrived to the stadium that day in a brace. He was subbed off in the second half and had two trainers helping him off the field. So possibly it’s a re-aggravation, but either way, we all need to cross our fingers he won’t miss any action.
The “nicest rivalry in sports” is still not a rivalry, but it’s most certainly not nice.