Skip to content

MLS Cup referee assignment announced; why it’s bad news

Nov 20, 2012, 6:44 PM EDT

Petrescu

Unfortunate news for MLS Cup – and for our best chances to see an attractive match on Dec. 1 at the Home Depot Center: Silviu Petrescu has been assigned officiate the MLS Cup final: Here’s why that checks the box under “bad news” in my book:

Petrescu is probably the worst in MLS when it comes to lenient enforcement of the laws, therefore tacitly endorsing overly aggressive and physical play. He prefers to not call fouls, so games under his watch tend to get extra physical. (Probably good news for Dynamo fans, although the Galaxy have smart players who understand when matches demand a more combative approach.)

I know that not calling fouls can sound like a decent enough idea, but it’s all about judicious application.

While it’s certainly true that a wise referee understands prudently employment of his advantage clause, that’s a long way from more or less deciding that only the most flagrant kicks, trips, hacks, elbows and body blows will actually draw a whistle. And that’s Petrescu.

(And never mind that Petruscu was just named MLS Referee of the Year; that’s more or less meaningless in my book, more akin to a politically weighted “industry” award than meaningful achievement. Just my opinion.)

So games overseen by Petrescu have a higher chance of devolving into orgies of turnovers, that kind that sometimes make MLS contests so hard on the eyes (and the kind the league is working so hard to tame this year – which is why Petrsescu’s appointment here is such a head-scratcher.)

When it comes to leniency, in the wrongheaded effort to “let a game flow,” the very opposite happens. I suppose it does “flow” if your idea of flow is a helter-skelter, unrelenting series of turnovers, abetted by a referee who green lights the doctrine of tackle by collision.

I know not everyone agrees, at least not officially. MLS Director of Communications Will Kuhns, someone I highly respect, pointed out to me via Twitter than Petrescu called 26.6 fouls per game this year, above the league average of 24.6.

But stats here are meaningless minus context. When referees call fouls early, players adjust to a match where they have to actually defend rather than simply hack and head hunt.  At that point, we tend to get what many of us like to call “soccer.”  On the other hand, when matches get physical, the high-speed foul-fest is on … and referees eventually have to call fouls. Thus, the stats tend to even out.

Plus, it’s not just the fouls. It’s the thuggish violations or cynical acts of obstruction that are whistled, but really should also be booked. And it’s bookings that really should be red cards.

In fairness, Petrescu is one of the better MLS referees in his tone of communication with the players. You do generally get the feeling that he’s in control out there when blood begins boiling (which is often does … because he doesn’t call fouls and things tend to escalate). On the other hand, what good is looking the part if you let players get away with something like this?

.

Latest Posts
  1. Phillip Lahm: Real Madrid the “team to beat” in Champions League

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:58 PM EDT

    Czech Republic Soccer Champions League AP

    Phillip Lahm sees Real Madrid as the Champions League favorites.

  2. WATCH: Premier League Sunday recap of Manchester United downing QPR

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Manchester United blanked QPR, 4-0, in the only match that Premier League match that occurred on Sunday.

  3. Philippe Coutinho open to an extension at Liverpool

    Sep 14, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly Getty Images

    Philippe Coutinho said that he would entertain an extension at Liverpool

  4. Jeremy Menez shines for AC Milan in riveting victory over Parma

    Sep 14, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT

    Jeremy+Menez+qojlhLjziL0m Getty Images

    Jeremy Menez tallied a brace and a spectacular goal as AC Milan edged Parma in a high-scoring affair.

  5. WATCH: FC Dallas striker Blas Perez nails very steep-angled goal

    Sep 14, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    blas_perez Getty Images

    A very tough goal scored by FC Dallas striker Blas Perez from an MLS match last night.

  6. President Obama follows through on World Cup beer bet

    Sep 14, 2014, 5:34 PM EDT

    Barack Obama AP

    President Obama sent the Belgian embassy a pack of beer after he lost a World Cup bet on Twitter.

  7. Cristiano Ronaldo could demand $813,225-per-week to make La Liga exit

    Sep 14, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Ronaldo may eye a even bigger contract at the end of this season, but not at Real Madrid.

  8. WATCH: New stars show up for Man United in first test

    Sep 14, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    NBC’s Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle and Kyle Martino discuss the performances of Manchester United’s new players in a 4-0 drubbing of QPR.

  9. Casillas: Real Madrid fans ‘entitled to complain’ after Atletico loss

    Sep 14, 2014, 3:29 PM EDT

    Spain v Netherlands: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    Goalkeeper Iker Casillas wasn’t opposed to fans whistling at him during Real Madrid’s match vs. Atletico Madrid.

  10. WATCH: Louis van Gaal urges Manchester United to “make a new start” after QPR win

    Sep 14, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

    VanGaal Getty Images

    After a comprehensive 90 minutes for their first win of the year, van Gaal is bullish on the Red Devils’ chances going forward.

  11. Report: Alan Pardew has one game to save his job

    Sep 14, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

    Pardew Getty Images

    With Newcastle’s managerial situation deteriorating rapidly, there is one week to turn things around.

  12. WATCH: Manchester United honor 12-year Old Trafford vet Rio Ferdinand before QPR match

    Sep 14, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

    Ferdinand Getty Images

    After 450 matches for Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand returned to Old Trafford on the opposing end for the first time.

  13. Julian Green starts for Hamburg in first Bundesliga appearance

    Sep 14, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT

    Green AP

    The Bayern Munich loanee makes his professional league debut.

  14. WATCH: Angel Di Maria opens his Manchester United scoring account for 1-0 lead over QPR

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:38 AM EDT

    DiMaria Getty Images

    It’s the first goal of his Premier League career for the $99 million man.

  15. Watch Live: Manchester United vs QPR (Lineups)

    Sep 14, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    Falcao AP

    Falcao is not in the starting lineup in his first Manchester United game available for selection.

  16. French report says Mathieu Debuchy out for two months

    Sep 14, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT

    Debuchy Getty Images

    Early estimates have Debuchy missing crucial Premier League matches against Chelsea as well as the North London derby.

  17. Reports say Alan Pardew on thin ice as Newcastle front office eyes Hull’s Steve Bruce

    Sep 14, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT

    PardewOut Getty Images

    Time could be up on Alan Pardew’s up and down tenure at Newcastle United.

  18. Injury plagued Holger Badstuber needs surgery again

    Sep 14, 2014, 8:34 AM EDT

    Badstuber

    A thigh tear will mean the man who missed two years with an ACL tear will yet again see the sidelines for an extended period of time.

Featured video

Week 4: Saturday recap