Revolution at RSL: the Morning After

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.


  1. No, no, I had like a beer and a half last night.

1 Comment

  • Rob says:

    A rebuttal.

    Ben, you’re an unrepentant Homer, which is simultaneously cute and annoying as shit.

    You’re looking for an excuse here, loudly. I don’t disagree that referee David Gantar made decisions that I wouldn’t have but, guess what, it’s his game to do so. I only have a couple of issues on the refereeing front and, predictably, they center around the two red cards.

    Will Johnson went in with his studs up and plowed over Clyde Simms. Gantar immediately whistles it but instead of carding it one way or another right there, he goes and talks to his linesman first. Typically, I’d have no problem with Gantar conferring with the his guys, I’d rather the refs take the time to discuss and get the thing right, but Gantar was standing 10 feet away from the tackle; he had the best view in the building, a front row seat. I’d be much happier if he’d have shown some authority on this one and called it like he saw it, and if he only saw it as a yellow, then that’s fine with me.

    As a side note to the Johnson red card, I love that John Lozano is hanging over Gantar’s shoulder with an imaginary card. That’s hilarious, John, and it’s not presumptuous in the least! How about do your own job and cover somebody on a free kick and maybe you’re not down 2-1 in the first place?

    Oh, and one more side note, this one addressed to commentators the world over, I hate the phrase “He’s not that kind of player” which predictably comes after any card. Who is that kind of player then? They’re all sweethearts off the pitch, I’m sure.

    Now, (rewatching) the Fernando Cardenas/Jamison Olave collision, it’s clearly not a red card offense. With the benefit of slow motion, I saw that Cardenas didn’t step on or spike Olave, that it was actually the opposite.

    I would like to know how Gantar saw this one. Did he see it as a repeat of the Will Johnson tackle? Cardenas’ studs weren’t up, though, he was (to me) clearly going for the ball. I could see giving Cardenas a yellow on this play, he stretched pretty far for the ball and in doing so, put himself in a position where he wasn’t 100% in control of his body, which is reckless. It’s not a red though. My other, bigger, problem with this is that Gantar set a precedent on the Johnson red card by talking it over with his linesman. If you’re not going to talk with the linesman about the Cardenas foul, you had better be 100% certain of what you saw. It was a fast and awkward challenge, looking worse than it actually was, so this one would be a good time to get a second opinion.

    Okay, now that that’s over with, let’s discuss what actually lost the game for the Revs.

    As you and I have previously discussed, Benjamin, the Revs aren’t that great on defense when they’re jumbled up in the box, there’s just too much confusion on who’s doing what. On the Javier Morales free kick, nobody covers Álvaro Saborío. Shalrie Joseph sees the lapse, but too late to get back to contest it and Saborío scores a wide open header. Wide open, okay.

    I don’t mean to add fuel to the bad reffing fire here, but I was a little unsure of the foul that set up this free kick. The linesman even talks to Gantar about it, but who knows what they said. Questionable foul or not, you’ve still got to do your job and defend in the box, that one’s on you, Revs defense.

    Then the Johnson red card happens, Heaps brings on Saër Sène (who I’m a big fan of) and makes an offensive push. This is when I like the Revs the best, when they’re pushing forward. The Revs had some good chances that were stopped by great Nick Rimando saves. That guy is amazing. If one of the other 18 MLS goalkeepers were in there, maybe it’s 2-2 somewhere around the 70th minute, but Rimando is a monster.

    The game turned when AJ Soares was hurt and had to leave. The minute he leaves the game (even before he’d been subbed off) RSL push back and start producing more chances. Was Soares single-handedly holding the RSL tide back? No, I don’t think so, but the combination of losing him and bringing in a forward like Diego Fagundez was enough to make the Revs too top heavy (understanding that, yes, they were in a position where they had to make offensive-minded changes). This happened before the Cardenas red card, the red card didn’t really change anything, honestly.

    Watch that last 15 minutes of the game, there’s a lot of grass behind the Revs that RSL start exploiting. If not for a great face-save by Matt Reis, it could’ve been 3-1.

    The Revs didn’t lose the game because of a bad call, and the reffing wasn’t as bad or as one sided as you’re trying to make it out to be. The Revs aren’t victims here, they just don’t have their shit together defensively. RSL has mostly better players and a more experienced head coach so they knew how to handle being down a man. The Revs are a vastly improved team over what they put out last year and they’re going to be even better next year. No, they didn’t win this game, but because of it they might win the next one where they’re up a man or have had some bad breaks. You can’t expect to go from bad to great, you have to be average first and the Revs are getting there.

    Don’t blame David Gantar, he didn’t leave Saborío unmarked in the box. He didn’t stop any Rev shots on goal. He didn’t give Jonny Steele or Kyle Beckerman enough space behind the Revs midfield to land a small plane in.

  • What do you think?

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