By the 90th minute last night, I was pretty upset (and, from all reports, pretty loud) about the refereeing in Sandy, UT. I’m a pretty big homer – I don’t see any other way to truly root for a team – but I try to be reasonable, especially in retrospect. So in the sobering light of the morning, here’s what I’m left with after last night’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake: the Revs should have gotten at least a point out of last night’s match.
I’ll talk about the officiating’s part in that in a minute, but first: good officials or bad, the Revolution had plenty of chances to score, and only found the back of the net once. I know that Brettschneider’s (fantastic) goal was the result of taking a few extra touches, but if we’ve learned anything from the Revs offense so far, it’s that they do their best with their first opportunities. And certainly, you can’t register a shot on goal if you lose the ball. In the waning minutes of last night’s game, too much effort was taken to settle the ball – frequently resulting in the loss of the opportunity.
The second half started very poorly for the Revolution, and RSL earned that second goal if only by virtue of the Revs’ slump. After a surprisingly competent first half, the start of the second was a big disappointment, and I think it was a big reason why we didn’t come away with at least a draw.
Additionally, handling is no excuse for RSL’s first goal – the Revs seem to me to be at their worst when they’re forced into a cluster like that. Despite the apparent overall jelling of the squad, teammates are still occasionally competing for the same ball in the open field. This gets amplified in close quarters. Every corner, I want to close my eyes: the ball always goes in one spot and then, after a moment of chaotic panic, comes bobbling out somewhere, often headed straight for an open net. The Revs don’t seem to be prepared for the chance that the ball isn’t headed away immediately.
Now! That said, I think the Revolution played very well last night, and had a few things gone differently, they could have gotten not only one, but three points from RSL.
But it’s hard to play a game when the referees lose control of it, which clearly happened last night sometime in the second half. We can argue about Will Johnson’s red – I said it was red when it was called yellow; he appeared to slide in cleats-up. But there’s no arguing about Cárdenas, who was upright and had his foot stomped on. And then somewhere in there, the officiating almost entirely ceased. As the game got more heated, the referees didn’t keep up, and the game got entirely out of control. Fouls were committed up and down the field (I would argue that the majority of them were against the Revs, but I wouldn’t say all of them) but very, very little got called.
So what I’m left with this morning is just a bad taste in my mouth. 1 But here’s the thing: it’s great to win a game; it’s not so hard to get over a loss when my team is fairly-beaten; and it’s certainly easy to shrug off a win that was tainted by one or several bad calls (Schilawski’s handling in last year’s home opener, for example). But when my team loses, and I don’t even get to watch them lose on their own merits – and by all means, they certainly could have – it’s a much harder pill to swallow. The officiating last night ruined what should have been a hard-fought, exciting game – win, lose, or draw. And now I have to wait a week to wash that taste out of my mouth.
- No, no, I had like a beer and a half last night. ↩