Ben Olsen explains his honesty about officials

November 15, 2012

There’s been plenty of talk about MLS officiating in recent days, as United fans fumed about a non-call that should have been a red card.

United Coach Ben Olsen has not been shy about offering his opinion, during on-camera interviews or to print reporters.

“Everybody in the stadium, everybody on our bench, everybody on their bench, everybody at home saw that it’s a red card,” Olsen said in Steven Goff’s postgame report.

“It was a real call that could have changed the course of this series, and it’s disappointing,” Olsen said days later.

“I don’t feel like we have gotten the greatest shake the last couple of weeks with the whole playoff series, but it’s what it is,” Olsen also said.

And so, during an appearance on DC101 this week, Olsen was asked whether the league gets peeved by his criticism of the officials. Olsen’s answer seemed particularly heartfelt, and loads more introspective than the answer we might get from other coaches in the area.

“There’s a line I think you can’t cross with the referees,” Olsen said. “You get asked questions, and they can’t expect me to lie, right? I mean, if someone’s asking, How do you think the ref did today, I’ve got to be somewhat honest. I can’t live with myself by just lying all the time against what I actually believe. I don’t want to do that.

“But there is a line, and you’ve got to be respectful,” he continued. “Look, these referees have families, and they don’t need me running around [and criticizing them]. And I don’t like doing it. I can’t stand talking about the referees. I think it looks terrible on me, it doesn’t look good on the organization. It’s an emotional game, it’s an emotional situation every time.

“And I’m still young as a coach, and I can’t help myself. I can’t. It’s just, it’s in me. It’s part of the good and bad of myself.”

Which I guess is something to bear in mind going forward when Olsen is asked about controversial league decisions. Like, say, the series of decisions that led to United having consecutive playoff matches on a Thursday and Sunday.

“Listen, we had two days off in between two playoff games,” he also told the station. “It’s ridiculous….I have no problem if we have the same as the team we’re playing against, but if they have an extra day….And don’t get me wrong, [Houston has] had a lot of games too, they’re banged up and they’ve had some injuries. But I think the league does need to rethink the playoff format. Because everybody wants to see Chris Pontius, everybody wants to see the big guys on the field, especially during the playoffs. Those are the guys that got us here. They take their time throughout the season, slow cook the season,and then the playoffs seems like this big rush. I think they need to reevaluate it.”

The referee discussion comes around the 11:00 mark below.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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