Two weeks into the MLS season and we’re talking about officiating? Sadly, yes.
Well, not everyone is talking about it. D.C. United Coach Ben Olsen refrained from the discussion, even though his club was victimized twice in the first 20 minutes of a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday at bitterly cold Gillette Stadium.
Olsen preferred to focus on United, which didn’t perform with the energy and intelligence that it displayed in the season-opening victory over the Columbus Crew last weekend. My match report examines Olsen’s reaction while also touching on referee Baldomero Toledo’s work.
On the Revolution’s first goal, Zack Schilawski clearly handled the ball. “We probably got away with one there,” Revs Coach Steve Nicol said.
On the second, United captain Dax McCarty was called for a foul in the box while attempting to clear the ball from danger. Pat Phelan came flying in and went flying past McCarty.
Unlike Olsen, McCarty didn’t hesitate in critiquing Toledo.
“I asked him what the foul was. He just looked at me and said something that sounded like jibberish. It’s one thing, when something happens, you can go and approach the referee and talk to him face to face without yelling at him and have a conversation. But it’s another thing when you try to speak to a referee and he points to his pocket saying that if you say one more word to him then he’ll give you a card. It’s truly unbelievable, some guys’ ways of handling situations. For me, he gets the call wrong on the first goal and he owes us one. And to give up a penalty like that where it’s extremely questionable, what can you do?
I felt like I touched the ball and [Phelan] just came through and either ran into my leg and ate up the contact and just went down. When a guy does that, the referee is either going to be prudent about it and wave play on or he gives a call.”
Said goalkeeper Pat Onstad: “I thought Dax got the ball. Phelan went down pretty easily. He’s a pretty tough kid but seemed to fall at the right time. It’s a difficult call for Baldomero. He’s trying his best.”
For much more.....
Some roster observations:
*Facing a two-goal deficit, Olsen turned to Charlie Davies (no surprise) and Fred (surprise). Later, with the score unchanged, he inserted Santino Quaranta. And with those moves to enhance the attack, Olsen left Branko Boskovic, United’s designated player, on the bench. Ominous.
A guy who started for Montenegro’s national team at Wembley last fall can’t crack United’s lineup. One has to wonder whether he’s in United’s long-term plans, but as far as I know, he has a guaranteed contract for the entire 2011 season. Unless I’m unaware of a salary cap loophole, he will remain on United’s account all year, whether or not he remains on the roster.
*Bill Hamid served as Onstad’s back-up, which is significant because rookie Joe Willis was on the bench for the opener. Hamid started the reserve match, as well — United won, 4-1, as rookie Blake Brettscheider scored twice. Onstad seems likely to retain the starting job for the next few matches, but with Hamid healthy and beginning to play in competitive matches, we could see a transition in the coming weeks. In addition, Steve Cronin had the cast removed from his broken wrist and has just begun to work out with the ball.
*Davies has scored three goals (two on penalties) in 83 total minutes. When will he start? “We’ll see,” Olsen said. “He’s done well off the bench for us. Will he be a starter for us eventually? That remains to be seen, but his attitude, the energy he brings, has been fantastic.”
*Josh Wolff has a slight hamstring issue, Olsen said.
*Dejan Jakovic was red-carded in the final moments under odd circumstances. Jakovic was pursuing the ball into the box and bumped goalkeeper Matt Reis, who fell. Revolution players angrily approached Jakovic, who gestured but didn’t appear to hit anyone. Toledo sent him off, meaning he’ll miss next Sunday’s match at Colorado. United will also be without its other opening-day starting center back, Perry Kitchen, who is with the U.S. under-20 national team. Look for Rodrigo Brasesco to partner with Daniel Woolard or Marc Burch. If Jed Zayner recovers in time from his hamstring injury, he could become a candidate as well, leaving rookie Chris Korb on the right corner.
“The ball was bouncing, the goalie came flying out and I jumped into the air and protected myself and put up my hand,” Jakovic said. “He fell down and everyone swarmed me and got into my face. I didn’t hit anyone.”
On the officiating: “It was pretty poor. They say not to say anything about the refs, but he could’ve been a lot better.”
Here’s the link to the match highlights.