Monday Morning Centerback: On MLS referees

MLS Referee (

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Are there any good MLS referees in MLS? Any?

It is a question worth asking after another weekend of questionable decisions and matches decided by the incorrect or missed calls of the men whose jobs it is to get calls right.

Take Sunday's showdown between Chicago and Columbus. The Fire led 2-1 and looked like a good bet to secure a win and move into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference. At least before referee Mark Geiger whistled for a phantom penalty call against the Fire (You can see the play here at the 4.00 mark).

That call came two days after referee Hilario Grajeda missed a clear penalty in the New York Red Bulls 1-1 tie vs. New England. After the match, Grajeda admitted to being screened on the play, but that doesn't explain why the match linesman didn't see the penalty and notify Grajeda.

Instead, it was another blown call and a point for the Revolution. New England isn't likely to feel bad for New York consider what happened to the Revs two matches earlier, when MVP candidate Shalrie Joseph was issued a highly-questionable red card just 23 minutes into a game vs. Kansas City. That call, made by referee Jasen Anno, left the Revs a man down in a match it eventually lost 4-2. A week later, without Joseph's dominant presence in midfield, New England lost to Chivas USA, 2-0.

It hasn't been a good year for MLS referees, with controversy and dismissals, but the bad calls almost appear to be increasing in frequency as we get later in the season.

Earlier in the year, I wrote an ESPN piece on officiating, with several coaches telling me that the refs were actually doing better than in year's past, with some of the early-season questionable calls being blamed on new mandates and emphasis on certain calls from U.S. Soccer. In the months since, MLS coaches have begun speaking out more and more about bad calls and game-changing referee mistakes, which shouldn't be a surprise since these calls could wind up costing some coaches their jobs at season's end.

Mistakes are a part of the game, and referees can't be expected to be perfect, but the number of major calls, and late-game calls, leaves you wondering whether some referees are trying too hard to show they can make the tough call, even if sometimes they wind up making the wrong call.

Whether it is still referees over-emphasizing certain plays they have been told to watch more closely, or simply a case of inexperienced referees enduring growing pains, MLS referees are having an awful year and there don't appear to be any signs that things are improving.


What did you think of some of the weekend's more controversial officiating calls? Think Wilman Conde was guilty of a penalty vs. Columbus? Have you accepted that bad referees are just something MLS fans have to accept? Think MLS referees are better than they're given credit for being?

Share your thoughts below.

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67 Responses to Monday Morning Centerback: On MLS referees

  1. lakaix15 says:

    There is only one good referee in MLS and thats Alex Prus other then that, they all can get fired

  2. Pat says:

    And Toledo sent off another player questionably, imo. Olave should have known he’d get sent off with that challenge and Toledo on the field, but it was a yellow card challenge.

    It could be inexperienced referees with growing pains, but you could have said that last year and the year before about the same guys.

  3. KingSnake says:

    You’re joking.

    Alex Prus is one of the worst.

    The solution is to have a greater pool of referees from which to chose. How do you get a larger pool? Get more people qualified, and working their way up the ranks. You all can be the first in line …

  4. KingSnake says:

    p.s. There would be “controversy” if a ref picked his nose, so saying there was “controversy” basically creates the controvery of which you speak …

  5. sammysounder says:

    We would have to replace them with someone better, which doesn’t seem to be readily available.

    Ives, do we have any up and coming refs able to take over? Is it much better in the NCAA?

  6. Sciroccer says:

    I agree. Fire them all. Bring in some europeon refs during the summer months to teach some of the american guys how to do it. Go back to the weekend before last and check out the hand ball by Chris Rolfe to score against RSL. That goal should have never been counted. As long as the refs continue these game changing calls, I will always believe that the MLS is rigged for bigger markets to have success for the leauges all mighty dollar bottom line.

  7. Steve says:

    We need to create a national officials residency school for young officials. :)

    I firmly believe this is one of the biggest problems with our youth development in the country. So many games are officiated by officials that receive little training outside of level clinics. T

  8. smits says:

    The referees should have a former player at their training to show them what flopping is and is not.

  9. Miguel says:

    Years and years ago, there was a referee exchange with Japan, where a Japanese ref came over here and officiated some MLS games (and I guess they got one of ours over there). That Japanese guy was one of two competent refs I ever saw work a game over here. The other guy was Esse Baharmast. That’s it! Time to bring in guys from overseas. As a matter of fact, Peirluigi Collina was forced to retire over in Italy, so I say get him over here now.

  10. It isn’t just the ref, it is the lack of communication and cooperation with the linesmen and 4th official. The Chicago-Columbus game was a joke. The penalty in question was a double bad call. CJ was clearly in the air with advantage to play the ball when Moreno slammed into him. The call was just crazy bad. But just one second later, when the ball rebounded (and the ref apparently doesn’t have ANY perhipheral vision) Lenhart got his boot high and nearly kicked (I think) Banner in the head.

    I knew the ref was going to have a bnegative impact in the game when in the 3rd or 4th minute, Padula took Blanco’s legs out with a two footed sliding tackle from about 3 yeards away, totally missed the ball and walked away with nothing. I’ve seen straight red given for less.

    Okay so guys miss calls. Where the hell are the linesmen and 4th official?

  11. Tolik says:

    The game is faster and TVs with different angle of viewing allow for more scrutiny of referees’ decisions.

    Platini just said, again, that he is against TV-replays. Blatter was not a fan neither.

    But some proposals were out there that without controversy of high technologies can help. The best, IMHO, is to put one more referee on the field. Simple, less running – better chance for a referee to be in a right spot. Why not?

  12. kpugs says:

    MLS officials have been terrible for the life of the league, and I could write a book just focusing on the penalty area and ignore the horrific calls on the rest of the pitch.

    Namely, referees are so effing scared to award legitimate penalties and change the game that it seems to me the MAJORITY of penalties given are actually terrible, terrible calls. Only the refs themselves can be blamed for this. I don’t know when they started being afraid to award penalties, I only know that they have been for a while and it leads to even more horrible officiating.

  13. This Guy says:

    Prus and Geiger are the worst. I’ve been saying that all season, Google it.
    Disclaimer: I’m a Fire supporter.

  14. Rick says:

    Is there a Czar of officiating for MLS like in the NFL (Mike Pereira) who reviews games each week, and sends out DVDs to all the refs pointing out their mistakes and what they did wrong? Seems to help the NFL as all refs are held accountable.

  15. sonicdeathmonkey says:

    I think this weekend was a good example of the inconsistency of the league refs. Specifically, the Olave and Padula tackles. Both were very similar….in fact, one could probably argue that Padula’s was more vicious in nature, yet he got the yellow and Olave got sent off.

  16. 505anthony says:

    Grejada is the worst. And he seems to especially hate the Red Bulls. I remember at the beginning of the season when he was officiating the Houston match, and he didn’t issue any sort of card on Holden’s nightmare tackle of Johnson, which left the latter with a broken ankle. The whole match was refereed with similiar incompetence. The man seems to card RBNY players for fun, but loves to see them injured.

  17. Fireman451 says:

    NFL Refs are employees of the NFL.

    Refs used in MLS games are employees of the USSF.

    The USSF is the entity MLS and its teams need to take their grievances to and ask to change.

    Ives, are there any legal issues to be considered if MLS were to fund USSF in order to support better training for refs that call MLS matches?

  18. JVC says:

    The worst part of the officiating is how wildly inconsistent they are about calling the same types of fouls within a single match.

    Players have no idea how to apporoach a challenge, because the same type challenge will get three different players a no call, a foul, and a yellow/red card.

  19. David says:

    I feel I big porblem is player/ref communication. When it comes to reds and yellows in MLS I notice the refs tend to go straight to the pocket after any tackle they deem questionable and often look at the player in way a parent might without comment. In other leagues, particularily the EPL, it seems the refs communicate a lot more with the players. They give warnings before going to the cards. If two players are getting heated they tend to call them both over and try to put the fire out. In general I find that MLS refs demeaner does little to keep games from getting out of hand but in turn pushes them closer to the brink. When they give cards they should make the player come to them and tell them why similar to other leagues. It is clear the players and refs have very little rapport in MLS. When players talk to them they seem to iqnore them and vis versa.

  20. Steve C. says:

    Watched the Seattle/Chivas game on Saturday. Chivas had a player sent off due to a high (in the face) boot, it was a correct call. Roughly about 10 minutes later, Nate Jaqua slides into a Chivas player… late, high, & studs up… just gets a yellow.

    The inconsistencies is what kills the refs in MLS.

  21. Matt Mathai says:

    Okulaja and Geiger are far and away the worst refs. They’re unbelievably bad. They have no feel for the game, and use cards to try to regain control of matches that they’ve let slip out of their grasp.

    For those calling for importing European refs, think back to one Stuart Dougal and his short-lived, and disastrous, temporary assignment here.

  22. Turd Mueller says:

    the officiating is ruining the league! The play has continued to get better over the 13 years of the league, the fields and stadiums are by and large better,the atmosphere at games is better but the officiating is dreadful. The lack of consistency to how a match will be called must drive the players and coaches crazy because they don’t know what is permissible and what isn’t. Is it going to be tight, is it going to be loose, whats a yellow card, whats a red card? Its a shame because it seems that in this MLS season that the longer the season has gone on the worse the officiating has been. I was watching la liga yesterday and the ref had a tremendous rapport with the players and called a solid game. MLS refs really think they’re something and that people are there to see them! The league will continue to suffer if this level of officiating isn’t addressed soon. The best refs are the ones you hardly know are there.

  23. Amy says:

    I think in the case of Jaqua not getting sent off is that it wasn’t a play above the waist. You get your foot up at someone’s head-level, you always run a much greater risk of red card for reckless play.

  24. notabbott says:

    On the one hand, I think the call on Conde was crap, but I’m willing to take a stab at what was going through Geiger’s head. Conde certainly looked like he was going to foul Lenhart with that kick — he got his foot up first, even if Lenhart ended up kicking higher and harder — and I’m guessing that scenario got entrenched before the rest of the events played out that revealed it to be much more of a 50/50 ball. So Geiger made that call up in his mind before it finished happening. It’s a mental shortcut.

    Now, I know this because I used to sometimes do that as an intramural referee in college*. In basketball, you can usually cover it up when someone takes a wild swing with their arm but gets nothing but ball by saying “um, you got him with the body.” Of course, you would think that sort of jumping to conclusions might happen more often in college IM sports, presumably, than at a professional sporting event.

    * A guy I reffed with in college actually went on to ref MLS, although he doesn’t any more. He called games pretty tight, but fair, I thought.

  25. JP says:

    Refereeing around the world has been scrutinized as video replay technology has improved. The game has become faster and more physical, which makes the refs jobs even more difficult.

    Taking all of that into account, MLS refereeing has been particularly bad since the inception of the league. Some of it is a lack of understanding of the game and soccer maturity. A decade later we don’t seem to be improving fast enough. There are some very basic bad calls made. A few of them are not even close or show a lack of understanding of the rules…

    We need to take a deep look at he processes used to form MLS refs…

  26. HIncha Tim says:


    I agree with you %100 on the Olave straight red card call. I thought the same thing at the time: why was it a red when a similar (if not worse) tackle just a few minutes before was only given a yellow?

  27. Graeme says:

    I’m surprised there aren’t more comments about the man in the pic, Terry Vaughn. I used to work with the guy in the days when MLS was just starting and he needed another job to make ends meet, and I used to think he was one of the best American Refs out there.

    Used to. There has been a tangible slide in existing referees and the new ones coming up since 2004, so this issue really isn’t a new one. How can you explain a guy who was consistent and in the last 4-5 years has become exceptionally more inconsistent? Improper feedback.

    The problem lies not with the referees, but with the USSF itself. Matches ARE evaluated and based on evaluations, referees are promoted, demoted, etc. – after all, I remember the days when Vaughn would be ecstatic when he could be a linesman instead of a 4th official. Whatever entity is responsible for providing this feedback to the referres at the USSF is to blame for this inconsistency imo and though there have been many costly decisions this season, this is more due to USSF inconsistency than individual inconsistency.

  28. CSD says:


    What is the proper call if two players kick each other in the head in the box? I don’t know how you are supposed to call the equivalent of offsetting personal fouls in soccer. If there are any refs out there, what say you?

  29. CSD says:

    I still think it was a crap call and being it was the only MLS game I have attended in two years and I do feel a bit unfairly done by a refs decision (being in the Southeast the waste land of MLS makes it hard to get to a game). I am though mildly intrigued by the fact that I was able to make my first appearance on an MLS highlight during the Rogers created goal.

  30. cjbrown says:

    A friend here in Chicago asked me how it is that Blanco is so dominant in concacaf qualifiers but not as much in MLS lately. It’s easy — as bad as concacrap refs are (and they may be corrupt), they are prone to severely punishing the sort of Braveheart, Scottish league-sort bs that MLS allows. Blanco got completely taken out by Padula, who received just a yellow. Then Lenhart comes in like f’in Daniel LoRusso and he gets a penalty kick in favor of his team.

    I understand that our league is more about physical prowess than skill. But why have we let it become like Scotland or the Turkish fourth division, where we reward mindless aggression and let skillful players get their asses kicked.

    This issue is about more than fairness for all teams. It’s about what kind of league we want here.

    Until we see a paradigm shift on this important point, I think it will be hard to attract more fans — and more skillful players — to MLS. I was at the Fire-Crew game and felt that not only was the Fire robbed but also I was robbed of the money that I spent on tickets.

  31. Cristy says:

    Toledo is a horrible ref. He loses control of the game and doesn’t get it back. IMO he is card happy and will give a card for the smallest things. I was at the game Saturday and that was a red card. Even after the card was issued Olave headbutted Mullan. There was a lot of blown calls in that game.

    I think MLS should be in charge of the refs like the NFL is in charge of their refs. The USSF isn’t cutting it.

    My husband used to ref with Vaughn years ago and last year we were very happy with his officiating. Now not so much. I’m not sure what has happened with the refs, if its improper training/feedback or what. Its horrible.

  32. scott47a says:

    I have to disagree with the comment that unless we make the game less physical and more “skillful” we won’t draw more fans.

    The biggest complaint I hear about the game from the non-fan is that it is too soft and that guys go down too easily. People like a little violence with their beer.

    But, then I’m in a minority on a lot of these threads. I don’t think the officiating is all that bad. People around me at the stadium are always yelling and complaining, but it’s only for their side. I figure the refs are human, make mistakes, but on balance the mistakes even out over the course of a season.

  33. Jameson says:

    there’s no improving the situation. you have the same problems in collegiate soccer.

    and most high school referees have never actually watched a professional match in their lives. in the state of pennsylvania they wear american football uniforms (zebra stripes) and use american football signals for calls (i.e. holding and offsides). its laughable.

  34. Blake says:

    Let’s bring in Howard Webb as a designated referee.

  35. For all the ref haters out there, how many matches of any level have you refereed? Refereeing games is hard and it gets harder the higher the level you get. In general I referee five to eight games a week between high school matches and premier level youth matches. The speed of play and the physicality of MLS games makes the game hard to call, full stop.

    Remember, most of the “controversial” calls get reviewed over and over and over again on slo-mo, replay and post-game analysis. A referee has about, at best, 2 seconds to make a decision. In that time, they have to replay the incident in their head, decide if the action is a violation of the laws of the game, who violated the law, which law was violated, and then lift and blow the whistle. It is not as easy as the arm chair warriors would have you think. For the arm chair refs out there, go to your local park and watch, in real time, a game at the U15 premier level, a game in which you have no personal stake and see if you can make the right call even half the time.

    Now after that game is done, imagine the players 8 to ten year older, faster, stronger, and the years and professional experience that have accumulated. Do you think you can still do it?

    It takes years to develop referees, just like it takes years to develop players. In order for a referee to become a national level referee, they have to pass the laws test, referees several hundred games at the U-19 or higher and that takes time, usually a few years at best, in order to get the game experience necessary to be a national level referee. You can’t simply start a whole host of referees and hope to develop them in a couple or three years–it can take five, seven or even 10 years. Also, keep in mind that referees, although they are well paid, most have a regular day job as well.

    I do belive, however, that USSF, which overseas the MLS officials, has not made the job of the referees easier this year. At the start of each year, USSF issues various position papers and directives, usually with a mind to encourage attacking soccer. But the dichotomy is that while the directives encourage attacking soccer, they run counter to the referee’s responsibility to keep the players safe.

  36. green says:

    “Let’s bring in Howard Webb as a designated referee.”


    Funny, I threw that name out there a couple of weeks back and was laughed at about how everything English was over-hyped.

    How’s he sounding these days? I still say the guy is class all around. He handles the game quite well, maybe because he’s a police officer and knows how to handle people better than most.

    Officiating in this country is a real turn off to the game. I can’t even keep count of how many games (including those without my team playing) I’ve seen that made me question why I even bother watching any more.

    I’m glad to see that the three clowns were dropped for the rest of the season, that’s a start. Now let’s see the rest of them held accountable for their crap.

  37. j says:

    Put in two refs on the field.

  38. John says:

    Olave headbutt Mullan… He’s like 6″ shorter than Olave, and if he ad been on the receiving end of a headbutt, wouldn’t he be on the ground?

    As for the MLS referees, they are a joke, they fail to keep control of the game, and once they have, they try to use the cards as a way to get the game back under control, but all it does is raise tempers even more. Those hard challenges early in the game need to be addressed, and the ref needs to let the player know that this isn’t acceptable, and that the ref doesn’t want to pull the cards out, but the next challenge like that will result in a card.

    I think part of the problem is the players in the league too. They’ve grown accustomed to the poor officiating and they know that if they embellish even a little bit they are going to get a call. watching EPL games you see a lot of hard challenges, but not nearly as many cards.

  39. You site the crap red on Joseph that cost the revs any chance in two games (KC & SJ) but missed mentioning a straight red on two players the following week (Janks and Tally)for next to nothing that put the Revs down a man for the Red Bulls game.

    I don’t want to hear about a missed call against the Revs in the Red Bulls game after the Revs got screwed for what amounted to 3 games in a row by poor Refs.

    I don’t like any of them and I have to think FIFA doesn’t either since none of them get picked for anything come WC time

  40. zongzap says:

    Toledo is the worst with Kennedy a close second

  41. Steve says:

    They suck! And I hate them!

    Wah! Wah! I’ve never reffed a game and I don’t care, they still suck!

  42. Andolini says:

    I would like to second Matt Johnston’s comment. I am a high school ref, and the best referee in our region practically got chased off the field on Saturday night in a game where I was on the line. Three reds, all legitimate, all protested by the coach (also booted out) and the fans. How many parents actually played the game? A handful, I would venture to say. I wonder sometimes why I got into reffing in the first place.

    I don’t think MLS or US officials are that bad, but the problem is that they have very little playing experience when compared to the European officials, which impacts how they call the game. Most of them never played above high school and did not grow up in a soccer culture, so they do not have a good feel for the game. I was a better player than 90 percent of the players I referee (still am), and very rarely do I run into a situation as a referee that I did not see or experience as a player, whether it is a bench-clearing brawl, last defender chopping down an attacker, leg breaking or face-breaking challenges, or even getting your b*lls grabbed in the penalty box on a corner. I doubt many refs can say that — we just don’t have the institutional knowledge yet, but we will, and the refereeing quality will improve as kids with more playing experience start reffing.

  43. Onoda says:

    CONCACAF refs in general seem to be terrible, from what i’ve seen from qualifying.

  44. Matthew Brown says:

    Forget designated players, we need designated refs. We should be importing the best refs from other leagues. I would rather see money spent there then on high profile players, at least the games will fair and watchable. This situation ruins my enjoyment of the league. The refs are a horrible wildcard that can swing the game to their whims and it is just ridiculous. It is like the league just doesn’t even care.

  45. Beech says:

    For what it’s worth the crew that did the KC/Dallas game this weekend was very consistent and you couldn’t argue with much anything they did or didn’t call. I believe this is the second MLS year for Gontarek

    referee: Jeff Gontarek

    Referee’s Assistants: Nate Clement; Peter Manikowski

  46. adam says:

    “Ives, do we have any up and coming refs able to take over? Is it much better in the NCAA?”

    LOL, no. The NCAA refs are likely worse: poor officiating is very much the norm for college soccer, at times even becoming laughable.

  47. kar says:

    Fire Fan disclaimer . . .

    I was at the game at Toyota park and couldn’t believe the call in real time. Looked equally dangerous on the part of Conde and Lenhart.

    Went home to watch and checked on the replay where the announcers indicated that CJ was likely the PK call based on contact with Moreno. Watching the replay again, I still think it’s a horrible call, but at real-time speed that’s at least a believable mistake.

    Oh, and count me amoung those feeling like Padula was lucky to be on the pitch after the awful (and stupid) tackle on Blanco.

  48. CSD says:

    Hamlett said in his post game interview that he was told the call was against Conde. Conde made contact with the ball and cleared it out of the area and Lenhart was very high on his kick. Unless the referee thinks Conde tripped Lenhart and thus made him elevate his whole body I see no justification for the call. The referee blew his whistle immediately after Conde and Lenhart came together. From the referee’s angle I can not understand how he did not see Lenhart flying threw the air with his foot coming at Conde’s face.

  49. inkedAG says:

    The refs in MLS are the worst refs of any league.

  50. MattC says:

    The saddest part is that the Refs are making such an impact on the game. The object of being a ref is to keep the game under control and enforce the rules. I understand that refs will miss calls and I am actually more comfortable with that then I am with them interjecting themselves into the outcome of the game by completely overreacting and giving out cards for simple aggressive challenges. Sometimes even Red cards for first time aggressive challenges.

    The Olave challenge in the Houston game was a strong challenge that was miss timed. It was not from behind, it was not studs up. He was clearly going for the ball and miss timed it. It was a foul and no more. In the EPL that would not have even been a yellow. How can you as a Referree completely change the game like that. Unfortunately, the outcome of the game is being taken away from the players. That is just one example of seemingly hundreds this year.

  51. James says:

    I’d love just seeing people know the rules, be in position and make the easy calls.

    Last time I checked, there aren’t water breaks in professional football, Marrufo….

    I get that more teams means more games for refs not experienced enough to handle the load already, but it isn’t as if this has been ANNOUNCED YEARS IN ADVANCE or anything so the Fed can start preparing for it.

    Is the Fed a bad service provider or is MLS a bad customer?

  52. c says:

    Just look at the comments in this thread about the Fire game.

    People STILL are wondering if the foul was actually CJ Brown, which it wasn’t.

    The foul was on Conde, and it wasn’t a foul at all. Lenhart was the on committing the foul by kicking Conde near his face, but Conde gets flagged for the PK.

    What a total joke.

    The reason people are still wondering if it was CJ Brown was because it seems impossible that the ref could have actually called a foul on Conde, but he did. The commentators were equally clueless, and assumed they called it on CJ, again because Conde did nothing to deserve a call against him, but I was at the game, and it was on Conde.

    Lenhart deserved a card on that play for kicking out at Conde’s head, not winning a PK.

  53. tmack says:

    not to mention a terrible pk awarded 2:53 into 3 minutes of stoppage time in the earhtquakes-rapids match…..the foul call may have had merit (although still photos of the incident show drew moor starting to go down before the contact was occuring) the crap part of the whole thing was the fact that a good 4-5 players were offside when the ball was sent into the box…..christ i’m tired of watching such poor officiating

  54. Tim F. says:

    There should be a referee with replay capability that can intervene when there is a clear missed call that can be immediately addressed.

  55. scott47a says:

    No replay usage in soccer for foul calls, ever. Period.

    I wouldn’t mind a second ref. Or replays on a debate about whether the ball crossed the line for a goal.

    But replays for in-game play? Next you will have us pausing for timeouts and going to commercial breaks.

  56. istvan13 says:

    But, is this debate any different than what goes on in any soccer league in the world? We could have this same debate about missed or blown calls in the Champions League, the EPL, Serie A… name it. We’ve had phantom goals awarded in England, as well as goals taken away that had clearly gone in. Emmanuel Adebayor was suspended for stomping on Robin Van Persie’s face, but where was the ref at the time of the foul to make the call?

    The fact is, with one referee on the field and little or no help, it’s easy for the official to be intimidated by the home fans, or feel he has to try and go out of his way to showboat a call. Or feel that he has to even things up. It’s not an MLS problem. It’s a FIFA problem. What happens in North America is part of a larger issue; the game is moving faster than ever, players work harder than ever to deceive refs and soccer execs refuse to embrace any kind of technology to help officials.

    Maybe the added officials in Europa League games will make for a better game. Maybe.

  57. Martek says:

    I was at the Dynamo/RSL game the other night and the only justice was that Dynamo won the game. Unholy Toledo missed three clear take-downs of Dynamo players in the box, all three of which should have been penalties. The highlights on show only two, and do not show the hack job that Morales did on Ching (only Ching’s retaliation far later in the match, which led to his (deserved) red.)

    Olave’s takedown of Davis was a deserved red, and Borchers’ slide into Landin later should have sent RSL down to nine men. This has got to stop before someone gets seriously injured out there. Unholdy Toledo should never ref another game.

    Similarly, the penalties in the EQuakes and Fire games were dismal. That’s two weeks in a row that the Crew, who have a deserved reputation for going down when you direct a stray breeze their way, have benefitted from highly questionable PKs at the end of a game. Both times they should not have been whistled. Those are four undeserved points for them, when they should be walking around with three less right now.

    The inconsistencies, just general bad calls, missed calls, loss of control of games, all point to a serious institutional problem in MLS, a league that just suspended its 2008 Ref of the Year, Jair Marrufo. Toledo deserves no less.

    This is a problem of MLS, USSF and CONCACAF and it needs to be addressed soon.

  58. 123 says:

    Olave’s tackle wasn’t deserving of a red! Martek look at the replay.

  59. Game says:

    Olave’s tackle was no where near a straight red card! If you take of your Dynamo/RSL colored glasses and look at it from the stance of a 3rd party. Not a red.

  60. IKJ says:

    mls week in reviews.

    link to

    stop bitching. they’re doing a better job than just about every average fan thinks.

  61. DC Josh says:


    Question…Doesn’t US Soccer supply officials for the MLS?

    If so, they make MILLIONS. Why don’t they spend more money on A. importing better officials, or B. better training.

    It’s ridiculous. Even if MLS supplies their own, Garber needs to take some of the $40 million x 3 he is going to have and use that to get better officials.

    I have no faith.

  62. padre joe says:

    As a Fire season ticket holder, there have times when I have wondered if it is worth supporting MLS any more because of the inconsistent officiating. I have been to several games this year where it feels like the ref’s have some sort of bias. I usually figure that is me being a homer, but twice this year I really wondered if someone had paid off the ref. Of those two games, one we won (we really had a lot of odd calls go our way) and one we lost (we had a lot of calls go against us). Now I’m not saying that the ref’s are corrupt or that anyone is being paid off, but there are serious issues if the thought can cross a fans mind.

    I agree that the MLS is very physical, to the degree that for some teams, being in defense simply means hacking at the man with the ball. This makes for a very ugly game. That is an MLS salary cap problem not a refereeing problem. However, all I really want is consistency. I want to leave a game and not be thinking about the ref. That hasn’t happened much this year.

    I know earlier in the year I used to get a podcast from USSF that reviewed the ref’s from the previous week. I thought that this was a great idea…transparency is always a good thing. The podcast stopped coming over iTunes sometime in July. I would be curious to hear what they have to say after this week.

  63. Jaxxy says:

    the whole structure is rotten. MLS — and USSF — are interested in referees who have the fitness to run all day. Whether they can actually call a good game is a way distant second. The attitude is that they will teach good-running referees how to call a game.

    But I think it’s been proven time and again that understanding the game and being able to put oneself in position trumps speed/fitness any day of the week. Now, that’s not to say that referees don’t need to be fit. Absolutely they do.

    But ask any referee with ambition — everyone knows of excellent referees who are passed over in favor of referees who run sub-5-minute miles. The selection starts from there and then moves on.

    So although there are a TON of really excellent referees who can run 6-minute miles, they do not even come into consideration.

    Until MLS remembers that this is soccer not track, the pool of eligible candidates is artificially small. Unfortunately, for some reason, the fast and super-fit referees just are not the same ones who understand the complexities of the sport. Not sure why but we’re seeing it out on the pitch every week.

  64. Jaxxy says:

    BTW, the presumption that referees are better overseas is rubbish. They aren’t. Watch any UEFA cup match and you’ll see this. It’s not so much the calls or the angles, it’s the lack of courage that is exhibited.

    As for NCAA — it’s a different league with different priorities — players are much more restricted and there is a behaviour and language clause that prevents incidents. Also, the game is significantly slower than MLS.

    Besides, the same guys who do MLS and USL matches are doing D1 NCAA matches.

  65. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    After seeing the Manchester Derby…I think the MLS officials are actualy quite good.

  66. Untouchable says:

    Bad calls are inevitable, but bad calls making the difference between a win or a loss is happening way too frequently in MLS. And don’t even get started on CONCACAF series – the games would be better off if the players made the calls themselves. Someone needs to tell the refs that being paid doesn’t make one a professiona, it’s knowing how to do the job.