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An PK controversy that wasn’t. Controversial, that is

Sep 17, 2012, 1:59 PM EDT

San Jose Earthquakes v Chivas USA Getty Images

Chivas USA is a big, fat, slow-moving target right now. Still, at the risk of appearing to pile on, this needs to be said:

Players and officials around Chivas USA are wrong to criticize officials’ decision on a controversial penalty kick in Saturday’s loss to Supporters Shield front-runners San Jose.

In the first half of a scoreless game, Chivas USA center back John Valencia decided it was a good idea to waylay San Jose striker Alan Gordon off the ball.

As Goats goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said later, Gordon and fellow Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart are quite physical, always looking to mix it up and even dish out a little of “the business” off the ball. Kennedy is 100 percent correct about that.

But it doesn’t matter. Valencia simply must keep his cool here. Gordon and (even more) Lenhart are wily provocateurs and everyone knows it. This can come as no surprise, so “keep your cool” must be a point of emphasis coming into any contest with San Jose.

(MORE: Comprehensive highlights from the match)

What particularly peeved Chivas USA players and management was in the call apparently being made by the fourth official.

Again, that doesn’t matter. That does not absolve Valencia of reacting emotionally and putting his team and a result in jeopardy. What Chivas USA assistant Greg Vanney said about it:

The frustration there is, having seen the replay, is one of our players puts us in a tough situation. The frustration there is also that none of the officials actually involved in the game actually saw it. It was the fourth official who called it all the way from midfield. I’m not really sure how that plays out and whose responsibility is what, but I know the two linesman or the center actually didn’t see the play.”

Below is the sequence in question; you can see for yourself.

Just in case you don’t know, Chris Wondolowski converted the spot shot, Gordon later added to the lead and the Earthquakes further solidified their death grip on top spot in the Western Conference.

Again, I know the frustration factor is high at Chivas, dealing as best as possible with an organization in turmoil and a club that is essentially being run by the league at the moment. Still, denying individual culpability when things go wrong is no way to get things points in the right direction.


  1. dws110 - Sep 17, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Oh joy, another article attempting to backhandedly defend San Jose’s thuggery. According to Mr. Davis, Kennedy is 100% correct about San Jose’s off the ball d-bag antics, yet somehow Valencia is squarely blamed for essentially doing exactly the same thing. Every other team has to walk on eggshells and “keep their cool”, but no one questions why EVERY OTHER TEAM has to “keep their cool” when playing San Jose? Lenhart, Gordon, et al are thugs, pure and simple. Calling them “wily provocateurs” is wrong; they are simply persistent foulers who don’t get called for it.

  2. teamperkins11 - Sep 17, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Okay I’ll bite.

    Your argument is that because San Jose plays physical off the ball, a forearm shiver to the ribs in the box should be within the bounds of the game? Where do you see anything in the video that shows Gordon provoking Valencia? The video shows that he is making a run into the box and is the recipient of a blast to the rib cage. There is physical play and then there is dirty play. When you do something with the intent to hurt someone, it is dirty. When you do it in the box it is just dumb!

  3. Steve Davis - Sep 17, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    dws110 —

    I understand your frustration. Lenhart frustrates me … and I don’t have to play against him! (FYI, I’ve written that several times; I’ll forgive you for not reading every single word I’ve ever written, but know that I’ve said the same plenty of times.)

    But as TeamPerk said above, it’s beside the point. Two big differences: Lenhart’s antics are rarely inside HIS OWN penalty area, where the jeopardy is far higher. And while he’s no angel off the ball, most if his shenanigans are around the ball. Off-the-ball retribution is a selfish reaction; makes you feel better, but does nothing for your team.

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