Skip to content

Was the critical refereeing moment Sunday in Houston really such an egregious mistake?

Nov 12, 2012, 2:20 PM EDT

DC United v Houston Dynamo - Eastern Conference Championship - Leg 1 Getty Images

Ricardo Salazar’s choice to let Andrew Hainault slide on yesterday’s MLS referee kerfuffle du jour had D.C. United fans seeing red – over the lack of red, that is.

“Oh, the injustice!”

The loudest media voices worked as an accelerant. “Clear red card” was the consensus, and there certainly is a compelling argument to be made.

Written responses from Salazar to a pool reporter’s questions were standard-level opaque; it really didn’t serve to move the debate anywhere.

But I’m going to add a little more nuance here (and probably stinging comments from D.C. United supporters):

I’m not so convinced Salazar got it so wildly wrong. At very least, I can strongly suggest the choice was not as clear cut as everyone wants to make it. This is in direct conflict with voices in the game I greatly respect, like NBC colleague Kyle Martino, whose analysis throughout 2012 has generally fallen been somewhere between “sharp” and “unimpeachable.”

But I think in this case, “clear red,” just got caught in the echo chamber, gaining its own greater velocity and energy.

Here’s what I saw (the video is below, if you haven’t seen the incident in question):

United’s Raphael Augusto fouls Hainault first. No, it’s not much, but it’s probably a foul. Does that 100 percent mitigate Hainault’s clear take-down from there? Probably not … but it adds another layer into this giant lasagna of a choice.

Either way, I see two defenders who are converging. Would they get to Augusto before he could put something on target toward Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall? Impossible to say. But again, I see some enough doubt here that a red card might have been the wrong call – even more wrong than a non-call if you’re convinced there was a flagrant foul from Hainault (pictured above tussling with United’s Lionard Pajoy).

What I saw was yellow card and a free kick. In my mind, it would have been the fair and reasonable choice for all.

Salazar had a bad game; I am clearly on record on that one. But I just don’t think this particular decision to be as egregiously poor as everyone seems intent on declaring. D.C. United’s over-the-top protests added to the lantern-and-pitchfork consternation, by the way, and that should be considered in all this.

One more thing to say about all this:

In the night’s second match, Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado tripped up Landon Donovan as the Galaxy attacker tore in toward Sounders goal. Watch the sequence and decide for yourself, based on the positioning of other defenders, if Donovan wasn’t denied a clear goal scoring opportunity every bit as much as Augusto?

The difference: announcers on site didn’t immediately proclaim a mistake was made, so the hue and cry never took lift off – and therefore never achieved the same critical mass.

Well, that and the fact that Los Angeles ruled the night anyway, I suppose.

.

Latest Posts
  1. MUST SEE: Wesley Sneijder scores two wonder goals

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:38 PM EDT

    Galatasaray AS v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    The Dutch midfielder scored off two ridiculous strikes to lead Galatasary over rivals Fenerbahce.

  2. MLS Sunday roundup: Seattle spoils Donovan’s last home game

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    San Jose Earthquakes v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    The Sounders came from 2-0 down to steal a draw in Los Angeles at Landon Donovan’s final regular season home game.

  3. Bayern Munich bag six without allowing a single shot

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen v SV Werder Bremen - Bundesliga Getty Images

    Werder Bremen became the first team without a shot in a Bundesliga game as Bayern continues to cruise.

  4. Where does Sergio Aguero rank with the world’s best?

    Oct 19, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    The Argentinian forward is scoring goals at a blistering pace for Manchester City. Could he be the most lethal striker in Europe?

  5. La Liga and Serie A roundup: Ronaldo, Messi continue to dominate

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Levante UD v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Getty Images

    Catch up on all of this weekend’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.

  6. Sunderland goalkeeper wants to reimburse fans

    Oct 19, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT

    Southampton v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    After an ugly 8-0 thrashing at Southampton, Vito Mannone said he will try to pay back fans who travelled to the game.

  7. Michael Bradley to Jurgen Klinsmann: ‘I have thick skin’

    Oct 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    The American international responded to Jurgen Klinsmann’s recent criticism of his return to the MLS.

  8. Malky Mackay likely to go unpunished over texting scandal

    Oct 19, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Cardiff City - Premier League Getty Images

    The private nature of Mackay’s texts may help him steer clear of FA charges.

  9. Gareth Bale could miss Champions League clash vs. Liverpool

    Oct 19, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Wales v Cyprus - EURO 2016 Qualifier Getty Images

    Bale did not play in Real Madrid’s match against Levante while nursing a muscle injury.

  10. WATCH: Argentinian 3rd division game abandoned after brawl, 12 red cards

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 2.50.49 PM

    12 players sent off, an ambulance called, and riot police on the field. That was the carnage from an ugly brawl in Argentinian soccer.

  11. WATCH: Garry Monk claims Stoke penalty was “absolutely disgusting”

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT

    Monk Getty Images

    The Swansea manager was furious following a soft penalty given for a foul on Victor Moses, suggesting his club has been hard done by referees plenty this season.

  12. Carlo Ancelotti delcares Raheem Sterling is “not in” Real Madrid’s plans

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT

    Ancelotti Getty Images

    Raheem Sterling faced criticism from the British media for his fitness, but he was also rumored to be wanted by Real Madrid. Ancelotti says don’t believe the rumors.

  13. Redknapp condemns “overweight” Adel Taarabt in presser rant

    Oct 19, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Redknapp Getty Images

    The QPR manager loved what he saw on the field at Loftus Road despite the loss. Off the field is a different story.

  14. Stoke 2-1 Swansea: Substitutes pick up three points for the Potters

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:53 PM EDT

    StokeCity Getty Images

    Jonathan Walters scored the winner off the bench as Stoke City grabbed a much-needed three points.

  15. VIDEO: Redknapp says QPR performance in 3-2 loss best he’s ever seen

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT

    Redknapp AP

    Harry Redknapp was left flabbergasted after his side performed well but fell 3-2 after a bonkers last five minutes at Loftus Road.

  16. Liverpool must improve, and they know it, despite late win at QPR

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Rodgers, Gerrard know the Reds were fortunate to leave West London with all three points. But they’ll take it.

  17. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Swansea City (Lineups)

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:58 AM EDT

    Britannia Getty Images

    Two teams who have dipped in form look to get back on track at the Britannia.

  18. VIDEO: QPR 2-3 Liverpool: Pair of own goals dooms QPR after insane final six minutes

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Richard Dunne's own goal early in the second half was a harbinger of what would come. Getty Images

    Liverpool struggled through the first hour, but somehow earned the win in an absolutely wild finish.

  19. Three things we learned from Liverpool’s pulsating win over QPR

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-QPR-LIVERPOOL FBL-ENG-PR-QPR-LIVERPOOL

    QPR’s wasteful finishing, Balotelli’s struggles and much more from a superb encounter at Loftus Road.

  20. Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga woes have Klopp, Zorc seething

    Oct 19, 2014, 9:41 AM EDT

    Klopp Getty Images

    Borussia Dortmund have lost five of their opening eight matches, putting them in 14th.

Featured video

Week 8: Saturday PL recap