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A shaky penalty kick decision in Portland; D.C. United benefits

Sep 30, 2012, 9:55 AM EDT

Watch it and decide for yourself: Is this really a penalty kick for D.C. United?

Referee Michael Kennedy, one of the experienced referees used in Round 30 when most of the experienced guys were, well, somewhere else (What’s up with that?), let his assistant make a critical call.

A cross came in, it was headed away and everyone was playing on, with just one half-hearted appeal from D.C. United. But then Kennedy’s whistle blew and – just like in Columbus, where a controversial goal affected the playoff race – a controversial call further affected it at Jeld-Wen Field.

I say: this is not a penalty kick. David Horst definitely should know better than to defend a cross with arms flailing. So, you can approach it from that angle.

But when players get clubbed and whacked and dragged down on every visit to the penalty area, this is enough for a spot shot? In a game that means so very much to so very many teams?

Not for me, it’s not. If Horst did touch the ball, it’s hard to make any argument that the flight was affected and that a real goal scoring opportunity was quashed. It was the visitors’ only goal in a 1-1 draw.

But you decide for yourself:

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  1. tackledummy1505 - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    This is why I feel that refs can try to put themselves into a game too much. This is definitely a questionable call, but in all seriousness, does anyone think D.C. United would’ve argued that call if it wasn’t made? Yes he brings his arm down, but did the ball make significant contact with his arm and was this intentionally done by the player to stop the ball? I feel neither one of these was achieved so play should’ve resumed without a problem. This is a case where the ref took it upon himself to make a call to decide the outcome of a game. Let the players win the game and if a call is absolutely warranted or needed, then make the call. People are watching the replacement refs in the NFL and saying how bad they are, yet in the MLS we have “PRO” refs and they seem like minor league or replacement refs themselves. I know soccer is a hard sport to ref with only one main ref, but really there has been a major amount of questionable calls since the league has come into play. We need to start employing homegrown refs or at least get someone who’s going to come in here and give the game the respect it needs. Too many times we see a ref coming from way out of the country, do a game and for what? I don’t feel they hold the same integrity of the game as say we had our own homegrown officials. Such officials, like we do in the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. There’s a reason for that and this is just another example of why that needs to be considered.

    • joeyt360 - Sep 30, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      When refs make a mistake, it’s because they saw it wrong. Refs don’t actually ‘put themselves in the game too much.’ That’s a line that players and coaches use to manipulate them (subtle message being: you’re supposed to do what I say because I’m more important than you).

      Beyond the occasional corruption or gross bias that exists but is quite rare, refs aren’t ever ‘trying to decide the game’. In fact, nine times out of ten, they’re trying too hard not to, making calls from fear (knowing that whenever there’s a PR battle, refs will always lose it), and the fear of making a tough call is what winds up changing the game.

      You can see for your own eyes players making a lot of mistakes out there. Why, when it’s a ref, do you assume it’s because of ego, and not just a simple screw-up. Because you’ve been conned is why.

    • pck332 - Oct 1, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      We need to start employing homegrown refs or at least get someone who’s going to come in here and give the game the respect it needs. Too many times we see a ref coming from way out of the country, do a game and for what? I don’t feel they hold the same integrity of the game as say we had our own homegrown officials. Such officials, like we do in the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. There’s a reason for that and this is just another example of why that needs to be considered.

      This has got to be one of the most misinformed opinions I’ve ever seen. MLS is a Canadian and American League. It is refereed by….Canadians and Americans.

      We can’t consider doing something we’re already doing. Well, I guess we can. Did you even take the time to Google the people you’re ripping on?

  2. sir1389 - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Portland has been hounded by poor officiating calls all year. There was the faux handball against Smith in the box that allowed Vancouver to tie, as well as the refs whistle call that NYRB scored on. On top of that Portland is the only team this year not to be given a penalty kick, despite the fact our players get pushed and shoved around in the box just as much as any other team.

  3. tylerbetts - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Probably a correct call, if by correct call you mean a literal reading of the rule book can lead to making that call.

    That said, there’s not enough hypocrisy in this Crew fans bones to complain about that call when we stole two points on an offside goal.

    It’s just shaping up for a great stretch run. Three points separate hosting the WC game in MLS Cup and not making the dance. For as much as we bitch about the unbalanced schedule, it sure is setting up a fun finish with every game counting in the East.

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