Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sporting KC Falls To Undermanned RSL 2-1.

Thoughts from tonight's 2-1 loss by Sporting Kansas City to Real Salt Lake at Children's Mercy Park. 20,553 fans attended the match and they may, or may not agree with any of what I'm about to say. Do I care? Not one bit.


Honestly, one of the things that is starting to really drive me crazy is all the criticism of the referees from people who, quite honestly, need to try it before they open their mouths. Especially, if they're opening them to do things like the "Who's your daddy?" chant or yelling "The (ref shirt color) team sucks."

Just because a call goes against your team, it doesn't mean the call is a bad one. The players on your team foul the players on every other team in the league. It happens.

Do bad calls happen? Sure, because referees are human and sometimes make mistakes. We've all done it. I know I've made mistakes on the field/court as I officiate multiple sports. The greatest signal in sports has to be the double thumbs up for volleyball ("replay"). It's got to be the only sport I know of that allows the refs to just do the point over.

But in sports that don't have that, you just have to live with the call that is or isn't made. Did Ted Unkel make some decisions that were incorrect? Sure. The foul for the penalty may have been borderline on whether it was in the penalty area, but in consultation with the assistant on the bench side of the field, he gave it. Personally, my seat was just about even with the top of the 18 and it looked to me like he got it right.

The point, and I do have one, is that the way you view a call made on the field by either the center official or the ARs depends on your point of view. The way you see it isn't necessarily the way the ref sees it because of their angle to the play. Do I agree with everything Unkel did in tonight's game? No, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because he was in a lot better position to see the game than I was. I was in the upper deck of the stadium. He was on the field.


The two goals Sporting KC gave up were, to put it mildly, incredibly soft and entirely preventable. The first, off of the free kick just in front of me, was an example of poor defending. To be perfectly honest, it appeared the team didn't even bother marking any of the three RSL players around the ball after Joao Plata put it into the 18. Justen Glad got his first MLS goal on the play and the defense hung Tim Melia completely out to dry.

The second was a product of a bad giveaway. To his credit, Luke Mulholland thought he'd take a crack at it and managed to put the ball on frame. Again, Melia didn't really have a chance to get a hand on it, but the ball should have been cleared properly.


To be honest, one of the strangest things I've ever seen, at least on a soccer field, has to be what happened after Benny Feilhaber took his penalty. Now, I've seen plenty of players run into the net to get the ball after scoring to try to get the game restarted quickly, especially when they're behind. The strange part is when RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella jumped in on top of him. Had I been the center official, that would have been worthy of at least a yellow, possibly a straight red for endangering the safety of another player.


One other situation I don't think Unkel handled very well was the inordinate amount of time-wasting RSL was doing the entire game. Plata's yellow card in the 76th minute was entirely too late to try to get them to speed things up. Now that I think about it, I can understand why Plata was so incredulous after Unkel booked him. He was probably thinking, "We've been doing this all game and you choose to care about it NOW?"


There are two stats from tonight's match that really stick out to me as reasons why Sporting KC didn't get more out of this match. The first is the fact they were flagged for offside eight times. Well-timed runs are a hallmark of this club and they just weren't there tonight. Whether that's due more to RSL's defensive strategy or the runs just being mistimed is debatable, but it happened.

The other stat that stuck out, like a sore thumb to be honest, was the fact that Sporting KC wasn't credited with a shot until the 35th minute. Not a shot on target, mind you, but a shot of any kind. RSL actually outshot Sporting KC 15-9 tonight, and with a Peter Vermes team, that just doesn't happen very often. If you're not generating opportunities to get shots, much less the shots themselves, you're not going to win very many games that way. It's just one of the reasons the club didn't get anything out of the match, which is exactly what they deserved.