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Bruce Arena tears into MLS refereeing. Again. And he’s right

Aug 12, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT

Los Angeles Galaxy v Seattle Sounders Getty Images

We keep saying two things around here. But we keep saying it because it keeps needing to be said.

First, Major League Soccer refereeing is improving. I know that’s hard to buy, especially after nights like Sunday, when the nationally televised evidence seems to say otherwise. But believe me on this one. It was so maddening circa 2008 that it almost drove me out of journalism. Seriously, because it was just so outrageously difficult to watch it week after awful week.

Second, it still isn’t good enough.

The latest case was in Dallas late Sunday, when not one, but two FCD goals were offside.

The referee’s assistant blew two critical calls. One was close – but the guy had two chances to get it right and still managed to get it all wrong. And then he blew another decision that was blatantly offside.

(MORE: Landon Donovan earns PST Player of the Week)

Galaxy manager Bruce Arena wasn’t mincing words – nor should he have been. His team missed an opportunity to grab three important points on the road. As of now, the two-time defending MLS Cup champs are in the playoffs – but only if you look at the standings as a snapshot. That is to say, Seattle has two games in hand and could easily lap the Galaxy. So any missed points from here though Round 34 could be the difference in post-season play or staying home for November.

Here’s what Arena had to say:

Terrible officiating, no question about it. However, we’re still in position to win the game. What more can you say? What more can you say? It’s a shame we can’t get better officiating in these games.

“The guy’s offside. In professional games, you have to assume that the linesman can make those calls. However, I would still say: On the third goal, we’ve got to do a better job. But what can you do? This is the state of officiating. It’s what it is.”

  1. The Ginge - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    I’m shocked Bruce forgot about that game against Columbus. SHOCKED I TELL YOU.

    • jpan007 - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      lol cry me a river

  2. talgrath - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    As terrible as those calls were, I will say they weren’t as clear-cut as some made them out to be. Watch the goals again, not in slow motion but at normal speed, and those are tough calls to make. The announcers didn’t get it right the first time, I didn’t get it right first time and unfortunately, the refs didn’t get it right the first time (which is their job). That said, those were two of the worst offside non-calls I have ever seen, not because they were blatantly obvious, but because the linesmen were right there both times. If you are staring across the pitch and specifically are supposed to be looking at offsides and you screw it up, there is very little excuse other than “I need to take some time off to get lasik surgery on my eyes”.

    • tonyinquakeland - Aug 12, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      I think the first one was pretty obvious and I thought so watching the play live. The second was a bit harder to judge.

      • Dan Haug - Aug 12, 2013 at 7:00 PM

        I agree. On the first one, the Galaxy are lined up in the top of the penalty box. Perez is the only guy in the box. The rest of the players had not moved. As a linesman, on a set piece like that, you just watch the line and listen for the sound of the ball strike. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

        On the second play, everyone was moving, and if the linesman wasn’t keepiong up, he could have missed it. However, that first call was about as bad as it gets.

    • Steve Davis - Aug 12, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      Yeah, I’m in agreement with Tony-Quake. First one is a step and a half on a stationary ball; it’s a call that needs to be made. You’re right on that second one … much tougher call (although, as I said before, fact that he got it wrong twice makes it a more egregious offense.)

  3. socamr - Aug 12, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    I’m with The Ginge – Arena doesn’t seem to have a problem when it runs in his favor, and there have been numerous times where the Galaxy have been ‘gifted’ a result by calls as bad or worse than these. Like him or not, I thought Donovan’s comments were spot on – that if the calls were missed, it’s unfortunate but part of the game, and usually evens out over time.

    And let’s not pretend that all other leagues in the world are perfect – I’ve watched enough EPL (even before they were shown on NBC!) to see linesmen there miss calls just as badly. We’ve become so used to poor refereeing in MLS (and yes, I do think it is a notch worse than in other leagues on the whole) that it becomes an easy crutch for managers and fans (and columnists).

  4. phredicles - Aug 12, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Ya wanna talk about inexplicable, inexcusable calls, Bruce: How about “Never mind that we signed Penedo, I think I’ll start Cudicini again.”

    A decent keeper would have stopped Dallas’ first two goals no matter what the refs were ignoring. But that’s not Cudicini.

    • charliej11 - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      LOL…..If he is not fined, then the ref should be able to answer back……”and another thing, can’t you figure out a strategy to win without OG ?”

  5. danielofthedale - Aug 12, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    Well what is the answer to this? What can MLS and US Soccer do to make the officiating noticeably better? When I would my friends that were fans of soccer but not MLS why they did not watch MLS the number one answer used to be quality of play by a wide margin. Now if officiating is has not passed quality of play as the number one reason it’s getting mighty close.

  6. soccerjohn - Aug 12, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Steve, it almost drove you out of journalism and it keeps driving me away from being a really invested fan of MLS. And I really want to channel my passion for the MNT into our national league. Time and again I sit down and watch…only to be so turned off the by officiating that I end up not watching for a while. It’s not just that I’m bothered by bad calls that turn a game. I think the way refs call the game (or, more accurately, don’t) makes it very difficult for teams to play attractive soccer. It’s impossible to play anything but a very direct, physical style when defenders can do everything but pants a guy in their effort to get at the ball. Seriously, my sense of MLS officiating is that it’s consistently like the officiating by replacement refs was in the NFL at the beginning of last season.

    I read all the time about MLS games turning on bad officiating and I have an honest question: why hasn’t the league figured it out? Is the officiating this bad in the smaller European leagues, or in Liga MX? Are there really not any better refs to be had? It is due to the way the league tells refs to be?

    • nussdorferac - Aug 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      It’s difficult to compare how “bad” the officiating is between leagues, but you can rest comfortably knowing fans of every league think their referees are terrible. The only difference is a fan in other leagues doesn’t think about importing new referees. Similar to how fans of other sports in the US can hate on the officiating, but they never think, “you know, Joey Crawford is really terrible. I wonder if the NBA could hire an official from a league in Europe.”

      Fans of every league complain about officiating.

  7. socaldave2011 - Aug 13, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    The first call was awful!

  8. charliej11 - Aug 13, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    I can’t drop four letter words because of a filter. Can you please develop a whining filter ?

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