Major League Soccer is once again facing an interesting scenario courtesy of the referees. Do they enforce the idea that refereeing decisions can't be criticized by coaches and club personnel even in the face of evidence that the comments are warranted? Or is Week 24 the week where the League decides it's time for a reality check?
DC United and Portland might be in the lead in post-game comments, but they're not the only clubs left wondering what happened over the weekend. Replays favor the clubs, showing missed calls and questionable interpretations that decided games. As Portland's coach Gavin Wilkinson so carefully put it in his post-game comments: "I’m in trouble however I answer this aren’t I?"
Well, yes, and that's a significant part of the problem. MLS, and the US Soccer Federation who assigns the referees, can't have a league where blanket criticism is allowed week after week. That erodes any authority the referees possess. At the same time, there's a concurrent problem of treating refereeing decisions as beyond reproach. League and Federation officials are caught in between, not that it's stopping some club executives from expressing themselves.
"He likes to be on NBC Sports apparently. He was on it a lot today.” That's DC United president Kevin Payne in the Washington Post, the kicker on comments that made it clear what he thought of the match official's performance.
It almost goes without saying that all involved would prefer scenarios where questionable officiating plays a direct role in determining the winner of a game. Failing to meet that standard is nothing new in any league in any sport. The officials get it wrong, and that normally overshadows getting it right more often than not. It's the weight of the decisions that makes the job difficult, and it's why leagues have little choice but to act to protect their referees.
MLS has an established track record of not tolerating public criticism of match officials, as they should. What's allowable can't be dependent on game-to-game performances. It's that erosion problem, creating a space where it's ok to publicly argue decisions. Though the entertainment value for some of these comments is high, it's not good for the League. Then again, neither are blown calls deciding the outcome of games.
Corner Rating: (with 1 MLS significantly lessening the standard on punishment for criticizing referees and 11 the League doing as they've done in the past). 9 And for those keeping score at home, we're dropping our original Corner: Referee rating from 5 to 4.
Last Week's Corner: Rangers did as expected in Week 2 and helped themselves to a lopsided win. Rating stays at 7.