Questionable PK helps Rapids earn draw at Red Bull Arena

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Photo by Howard C. Smith/


HARRISON, N.J.– After last week’s 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps, the New York Red Bulls needed a spark to ignite the defense of their 2013 Supporters Shield. They started their match on Saturday well enough, but couldn’t sustain that energy for the rest of the match, allowing the visiting Colorado Rapids to ride a questionable penalty kick call to a hard-earned road point.

A 57th-minute  goal off the head of Thierry Henry gave the Red Bulls life, but it wouldn’t be enough get them past the Colorado Rapids, whose 72nd-minute goal from Vicente Sanchez was enough to earn a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena.

Replacement referee Alan Kelly drew the ire of the home crowd when he pointed to the penalty spot after Colorado’s Marvin Chavez backed into Red Bulls defender Jamison Olave and collapsed in a heap. Replays showed Olave standing with his arms up as Chavez backed into him, but the penalty still stood, and Sanchez converted it with a perfect low kick to the right corner.

The Red Bulls were bound to come out with an extra bit of emotion for their home opener, as the club unleashed a pyrotechnic display to go with the unveiling of a banner celebrating last season’s Supporters Shield.

That pre-game spectacle appeared to energize the home team responded from the start and opened the contest with an intensity unseen in their previous effort. However, it was the Rapids who created the better scoring chances in the opening half, forcing Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles into five first half saves, including two in the 18th minute.

Henry’s header gave the hosts the lead early in the second half when he was left unmarked on the back post. Lloyd Sam’s cross found it’s way across the Rapids box, giving Henry one of the easier finishes of his illustrious career.

“I was thinking Tim Cahill would be coming in at any time,” said Sam. “But Thierry gets a few with his head every now and then and I was happy he put that in.

The Rapids got themselves right back into it in the 72nd minute when Sanchez fired past a diving Robles from the spot. Red Bulls centerback Jameson Olave was called for the penalty after coming over the back of Sanchez.

“From my vantage point, I feel like the defender has his right to stand his ground,” said Robles, “but I’m guessing my angle wasn’t the best angle since it’s in the back of Olave.”

“There wasn’t really much danger of us conceding from where he was on the field,” added Sam. “He had his back to the goal. It kind of knocked us”

The Red Bulls had chances to grab all three points in stoppage time when an Henry free kick found the head of Peguy Luyindula, but Luyindula’s header went across the face of goal only to be cleared by the Rapids’ defense. Shortly after, Rapids keeper John Berner  made the save of the night on an Henry header that was headed for the lower corner.

After the game, Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke was less than happy with the officiating.

“Listen, it’s the game,” said Petke. “What am I going to say about the penalty kick? Maybe if the guy was Olave’s size maybe he wouldn’t have gone down like that. I don’t know.

“The referee made a decision. It’s unfortunate for us, fortunate for Colorado, and you move on.”

Despite the rocky start to the season, Henry insisted that it wasn’t time to push the panic button.

“There’s no panic,” said Henry. “We have to go back to the field next week and do better because it wasn’t, obviously, enough to win the game today. But yeah, we were in this situation last year, and we wanted to do better. We obviously didn’t. It’s going to be a tough game against Chicago next week and we have to do better.”

“Overall, at home, a point,” added Petke. “I’d much rather three. But it’s the second game of the season. There’s 32 left.”

With the draw, the Red Bulls fall to 0-1-1, while the Rapids earn a point in the first game of their 2014 season.

Here are the match highlights:

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54 Responses to Questionable PK helps Rapids earn draw at Red Bull Arena

  1. Luis Esco says:

    Questionable. Thats a polite way to put it.

    I don’t watch the Rapids but have they flopped and dived that much in the past? Tbh I’ve never seen any MLS team ever dive that much before.

    • Eric says:

      Rapids have never had the rep of a team that dives a lot to my knowledge. Keep in mind that this is the team Conor Casey led the line for not that long ago–I can’t imagine they care too much for forwards who flop all the time.

      • jcr says:

        I would not make a comparison with having Conor Casey on the team. There is a new coach and new players. Casey is long gone. Disgusting. I hope MLS reviews the game and punishes the team and its players.

        • Rory says:

          Nope, not a flopping team at all. If anything in the Casey years we were probably getting defenders flipping due to Casey’s reputation as a bull in a China shop.

          But since Chavez has been with the Rapids for all of one game so far, perhaps you should ask San Jose fans if HE is a flopper.
          Also, New York had had a rep for making a meal of some touches by defenders, have they not?

  2. sweatervest says:

    That call really was awful

    • Rory says:

      I call BS to this. Yeah, Olave’s arms are straight up, but watch his right knee which he swings into Chavez’s butt/back/anything dangling in that general region. If you watch the replay you can’t see exactly where he hits but you can clearly see Olave’s move forward and his right foot ( visible through Chavez’s legs) move forward quickly about two feet and sweep through Chavez. There was definately contact made and given that Olave is a physical force I’d say it wasn’t pleasant for Chavez at all.

      I assume those announcers were homers of the RedBulls for not noting this.

  3. downintexas says:

    MLS really needs to drop the hammer on this type of plays to deceive the ref.

    • Rory says:

      Yes, Olave clearly tried to deceive the ref by throwing his hands up like he wasn’t doing anything all the while he was sweeping his knee into the back of a defenseless defender. Good call by the red not to fall for it, but MLS should come down on the defender’s attempt to deceive by throwing his hands up like that.

      • Rory says:

        On the MLS page of highlights the first replay of the incident shows contact between Olave’s powerful knee and Chavez’s “bad touch” zone. I don’t know it was intentional, but Olave’s leg sweeps through that general region when they collide.

        link to

        • Dude, but Chavez is holding his head when he falls... says:

          Why is Chavez holding his head when he is on the ground after recieving such a soft penalty if you watch football anywhere even in China that call doesn’t get blown by the ref especially on such a tight match like that. It needed to be a two footed tackle or a strike to the head from behind, which Olave’s tackle was not reckless like Man United tackles vs Liverpool last saturday. It was a bad call, just like how the penalty called in week 1 vs RBNY, the PK was warranted because Eckersley handed the ball in the box but the PK should have been retaken since a Vancouver Whitecap player invaded the penalty box while the shot was being taken from the spot. The officiating has not been as spot on as you are painting it.

  4. RB says:

    “Replays showed Olave standing with his arms up as Chavez backed into him”

    Must be different replays not shown on the broadcast or on the MLS site, as the ones there showed, in turn nothing conclusive and Olave stepping up and putting a chest into the bump as much as Chavez backing into him.

    • goredbulls says:

      So you think it was legitimate then? Gotta say, I disagree with you.

      • RB says:

        No, I think it was soft. Said so immediately to a friend while watching. But that doesn’t mean Olave was just standing there stock still enjoying the sunshine and minding his own business when suddenly Chavez victimized him.

        • Sparta Riverside says:

          I agree. Soft penalty, but a bonehead play by Olave to bump a known diver in the box. The guy who wrote this article completely misrepresented what happened.

    • Joamiq says:

      “putting a chest into the bump”

      The mere notion that anyone could think that a play described like this (by someone sympathetic to the call) could be a foul is laughable.

      “putting a chest into the bump”


  5. AcidBurn says:

    That call was Kouman Coulibaly-level awful. You could call five to ten penalties a game with that level of softness. Replacement Refs 1, MLS 0.

    Show some accountability MLS and do something to apologize for that.

  6. Chodilicus says:

    Not a fan of either team, but that was an aweful PK call. Absolutely nothing there at all. Colorado has never been the worst flopping team, but Chavez is a perennial diver. I would like to see him fined for this one, simply as an MLS fan that sees no room in the game for this kind of deception.

  7. Scott A says:

    Good job, MLS empty suits.

  8. Tim F. says:


  9. Becks says:

    Yeah…except that was the right call. All RB fans here. Switch the uniforms. You’d blow the whistle every time. Olave hit him like a ton of bricks, regardless if his “arms were up”. He hit him hard with his body. You can’t do that. You can’t just slam into someone’s back like that. Sorry RB fans, it was the right call.

    • sweatervest says:

      Absolutely not. That play happens twenty times a game. The Colorado player flopped hard and the ref fell for it. You did too apparently, which is truly shocking considering the video evidence. Poor call for sure. He will be fined for simulation.

    • Joamiq says:

      “slam into someone’s back”

      Hilarious. Find me another PK on a play like that. I’ll wait.

    • beachbum says:

      not an RB fan here. that was not a PK imo

  10. Dos says:

    New Jersey Red Bull. An hour from midtown. Train to HOBOKEN then out to Harrison. BOTH WAYS! What a complete joke. Can’t wait for NYFC

    • Scott A says:

      Kinda like the New Jersey Cosmos? Teehee. Westchester will be sooo NYC for fair-weather fans.

    • Joamiq says:

      You must be a tourist if you’re calling out the team for that. That has nothing to do with NYRB and everything to do with the Port Authority deciding randomly, out of nowhere, that the most important PATH station has to be closed throughout the weekend for at least a year. It’s like the MTA deciding out of nowhere to close Penn Station or Grand Central indefinitely. Absurd. Not something the Red Bulls could ever have foreseen. Wouldn’t surprise me if someone close to Cosmos ownership made it happen.

      And if you can’t wait for “NYFC”, then cool. See ya.

    • georkt says:

      Why wait, get out now, you won’t be missed.

    • PauseTheGameRealQuick says:

      Should have just taken NJ transit bro. 34th street to New Penn, 2 stops. A couple more dollars saves you the headache.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Surprisingly, RBNY doesn’t actually decide when PATH will do track work. If you pick your team based on how fast the train ride is, you’re a pretty terrible “fan” anyway. I’m sure the bleachers at Yankee stadium will offer you a great view of the action. And you’ll be crying first time the 4 train is delayed.

  11. Joamiq says:

    Look, I`’ll be fair. Draw was a fair result. Red Bulls didn’t deserve 3 points. Third string Colorado keeper in there and they couldn’t put enough pressure on him to score more than one goal.

    But the PK was absolute BS. You won’t see a worse PK called, ever, at any level. Watch the replays. It’s absurd. Every play in soccer would be a foul if that one is. Ref should be held accountable for that. Anyone arguing otherwise is a meritless homer or someone unfamiliar with soccer.

    But still, that wasn’t why RB didn’t get 3 points. Colorado earned the draw.

    • RB says:

      This is quite a good post if you can overlook the unfortunate hyperbole in the middle, there. I daresay many of us have already seen more than one PK call that was worse than that, including at the highest level and by non-replacement refs. I mean any such call where replays showed no contact was actually made automatically qualifies, of course.

      But yes, all in all, it could only be a very Red Bull-favorable view that just blames that call for them not taking full points yesterday. A Rapids team that hadn’t played yet, and hadn’t ever played under their new coach, who hadn’t ever coached a game at this level, starting a rookie keeper and others also in their first games at this level or in this league, and who had travelled most of the length of the country to get there, and in the end a team who many expect to finish in the bottom 3-4 of their conference this season… And that’s all you can muster against them?

      I personally expected a Red Bulls cakewalk featuring 3-4 goals from the home side and a rather obvious mismatch throughout. But instead the Red Bulls failed to beat the Rapids decisively in anything. Accorsing to the league site, the closest they got was their small possession advantage of 52-47. Meanwhile the Rapids outshot them 18-11, and 6-2 on target, had 8 corners to just 2 for the Red Bulls, and even edged them in passing accuracy. All on the road in the Red Bulls’ house under those difficult circumstances. But I’m sure it’s more comforting to take the old tried and true approach of just blaming the ref (who to be fair called a fine and even game otherwise, even if you dislike that call, and despite beig a replacement ref).

      On a side note, it sure was enjoyable to watch Olave huffing and puffing to keep up with Brown, and he and Armando struggling to contain him even with their tag-team approach. :-)

    • RB says:

      Interested to hear Lalas (of course somewhat familiar with defending himself) say today on his podcast that it was the right call and that Olave as a defender should have known better.

  12. PauseTheGameRealQuick says:

    That PK call was so soft, those Charmin bears could use it as toilet tissue.

    I was there yesterday, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be that ref at the end of the game. The crowd thoroughly took him to task.

    • Chupacabra says:

      Yeah. The p-wads that call themselves Red Bulls fans took pictures of the ref with their cell phones and threatened to call the cops.

      • PuaseTheGameRealQuick says:

        What? The boos were pretty vociferous among other things that were being hurled at him, both linguistically and physically.

        There is a reason why this highlight ends after the PK. The Rapids reaction to that garbage goal was to lay down on the ground at a moments notice and time waste the game away. The crowd reaction said it all… I guess MLS doesn’t want the rest of the world to see that do they?

        • RB says:

          “There is a reason why this highlight ends after the PK. The Rapids reaction to that garbage goal was to lay down on the ground at a moments notice and time waste the game away.”

          Good point, other than the fact that that’s not at all what happened. Believe me, many a Rapids supporter were questioning how long the team would continue to press for the 3 points rather than settle back and play for the draw on the road in a tough place.

          • PauseTheGameRealQuick says:

            So you’re really trying to tell me that Rapids were pressing? They dived to get one goal, then they dived to waste the game away over and over again. The Metro support was counting down the seconds that they were wasting. That is EXACTLY what happened lol.

            • RB says:

              Yes, one can see from your post above how focused you are on what really happened. Thanks.

              • georkt says:

                Yes, one can see you post way too much and you content zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

              • RB says:


                Did you bring enough to share with the class? :-)

  13. Tony says:

    How bad were the red bulls? Well this game was beyond boring! Dax was missing and has not returned to form which is surprising. Cahill was not really present in midfield. Bradley is the new espindola missing two goals. This guy is a backup at best. Eckersley, miller are horrible. yep they overlap but whip the ball to no one. And when they are on defense their play is questionable. Convey may be great in practice but that pedigree is not there. Henry had moments of magic but guess what when it counts he always cowards away. He had a chance to make some magic against a rookie on a free kick and he puts the ball at the far post hoping for someone else to put the ball in. Actions like this make his play questionable at best. Alexander missed a wide open shot! Robles was outstanding and kept the scoreline tight. Luyundila made two plays in stoppage time which beg the question how is this guy on the bench? Yeah they got lucky to get one point.

  14. atleticodemadridfan says:


  15. slowleftarm says:

    I think it’s fair to say that call was wrong (not just soft) but not necessarily the worst penalty decision in the history of the sport. There’s a middle ground. It happens, although it happens more in MLS than in other leagues I would say.

    In any event, RBNY’s performance wasn’t really deserving of all three points so I can’t complain that much. This is a pretty much talent-free Rapids team that will probably finish near the bottom of the west and this should have been three points at home. Still, it’s really early – last season started with a draw in Portland, the Roy Miller debacle in San Jose and a draw at home against DC (worst team in MLS history) United and ended with the Supporters Shield.

    • Brain Guy says:

      Reasoned analysis like that has no place on the Interwebs.

      • RB says:

        Ha — I agree, and (except for that unfortunately hyperbolic “talent-free” remark) agree with SLA on everything he says here.

        • slowleftarm says:

          Who is this guy? And who called the hyperbole police anyway?

          • RB says:

            When your starters include last year’s ROTY, last year’s ROTY runner-up, last year’s Gold Cup Golden Boot winner (share), as well as players like Shane O’Neill, Chris Klute, Clint Irwin, etc, only hyperbole could lead you to call it “talent-free”.

            And I’m not sure why it matters who I am, but I’ve been posting on this site for the past 3-4 years. Have often disputed your strongly held views regarding the background of players on the international side of the game, in fact.

  16. ElMetrofan says:

    I think Chávez sold the PK. Hes got a career probably in the new series of CSI Denver as a double getting shot. The guy fell as if his balls( not the soccer ball) got taken away from him.

  17. Brain Guy says:

    Kelly was completely fooled by Chavez. When a tiny guy and a huge guy bump into each other, what do you expect? Chavez made it look like Olave gave him a two-handed shove. Kelly “explained” the call by saying that Olave initiated the contact. If that’s the standard, there should be about 15 PKs per game. I can’t believe that I’m wishing for the regular refs to come back.

  18. baropbop says:

    If that happens anywhere else on the field it’s called as a foul. Maybe a bit soft for a pk, but not outrageous by any means.

  19. Me says:

    Was the author of this article not able to talk with Colorado players? No mention of Pablo Mastroeni coaching his first game? Thanks for the one-sided read.