Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:52 PM
A massive unbeaten streak that stretched backwards for more than two months ended in controversial fashion on Saturday night.
That’s the fact.
Unsurprisingly, Real Salt Lake, its technical staff, its players and its fans feel harshly done by the result, but just how much controversy is really there?
There is no question that referee Matthew Foerster was in poor form and lost control of the match early.
Following the match, Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis risked both fine — and potentially suspension — in voicing his displeasure.
“The level of consistency was the lowest I’ve seen from a referee in MLS. And again, I don’t want to belabor the point about the referee being poor. He is going to be poor. It’s his 14th match of his entire career,” said Kreis, although after further research it was discovered that it was actually Foerster’s 17th Major League Soccer outing. “The referee in a sold-out stadium, in a first place versus second-place matchup — it’s the wrong game for him to make his 14th MLS game.
“This one the referee owns. In my opinion, the referees own this game.”
Kreis was particularly incensed about the second caution, and resulting send off, of outside defender Chris Wingert after a professional foul along the far sideline.
Video replays make Wingert’s contact look far less benign than it appeared in real-time, but the reality is that Wingert should have been smarter than putting himself at the mercy of the referee already sitting on a caution.
In fact, the veteran defender was probably quite lucky to escape being sent off the opening minute of the contest after initiating a particularly bruising off-ball challenge against Sporting Kansas City’s Kei Kamara.
That particular foul drew Wingert his first caution, which ultimately set the stage for his later ejection.
That being said, it doesn’t excuse the inconsistency of the referee’s performance throughout the night, with both teams having reason to claim injustice.
From the high vantage point of the press box, the single worst foul of the night came in the 55th minute when Sporting’s Oriol Rosell initiated a brutal scissor tackle takedown of RSL midfielder Javier Morales just past the edge of the attacking third. Rosell’s blatant challenge resulted in a caution, but could have easily been a back pocket decision given the aggressiveness of the challenge.
Another of Kreis’ chief complaints, and one which I personally completely agree with, was that Kansas City’s match-winning goal came in the seventh minute of stoppage time after only five minutes were signaled.
With nothing to delay action on the field during the added time, there really is no justification for those added two minutes.
“We have to move on quickly. We’ve had a lot of really good runs and again tonight, they battled really hard,” Kreis said. “We have to move on quickly and hopefully in the majority of the games, the referee will get the decisions right. And hopefully referees will know to not give seven minutes of extra time when he puts out (five). These are difficult things to keep track of, I guess.”
Despite the setback, the Claret-and-Cobalt can find one particularly shining piece of silver lining.
Salt Lake, missing nine players — including half its starting lineup, went toe-to-toe with the second best team in Major League Soccer for 97 minutes.
And is still in sole possession of first place in the league standings.
RSL-AZ U-16 Champions
The Real Salt Lake-Arizona U-16 Academy team scored two late goals and defeated Solar Chelsea SC 4-2 at the 2012-13 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week Championship on Saturday in Houston.
Justen Glad’s header goal in the 75th minute broke a 2-2 deadlock and Real Salt Lake-AZ padded its lead in the closing minutes to claim the Major League Soccer-affiliated residency program’s first national championship.
RSL-AZ’s Brooks Lennon and Sebastian Saucedo each had a goal and an assist in the first half, which saw it leading 2-1 at the break, and Lennon assisted Evan Waldrep in the 78th minute to round out the scoring.
You can follow Justin Johnson on Twitter at: @jjohnson801 or email him at email@example.com
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