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Toronto FC latest MLS club burned by refereeing blunder

Sep 21, 2013, 7:04 PM EDT

Los Angeles Galaxy v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

Toronto FC, by virtue of defense so bad that Paolo Maldini (one of the best of all time) surely felt a disturbance in The Force and didn’t understand why, deserved to lose. Or, at very least, the Reds didn’t deserve to win Saturday.

But let’s also be very clear about this: Toronto FC was the victim of some egregiously poor refereeing by Allen Chapman, who was timid about making the necessary choices that could have easily changed this result.

SKC defender Aurelien Collin (pictured) was ever so lucky to be on the field by halftime. Already carrying a yellow card, Collin put an elbow into Alvaro Rey’s face near the penalty area. It should have been a second yellow, but Chapman barely had a word to say to the SKC center back, who has about a half-dozen of these matches each year, where he pretty much loses control and very nearly loses his mind.

But there was plenty more …

In the 73rd minute, Kansas City’s Peterson Joseph kicked Toronto’s Bobby Convey inside the penalty area. Perhaps there was enough doubt in this one for Chapman to keep the whistle quiet and not award a penalty kick, but …

Minutes later, as TFC pressed for the equalizer in an eventual 2-1 loss, there was no doubt as Collin intentionally and cynically shoved Justin Braun to the ground as the Toronto striker eyeballed a header near goal. Collin wasn’t looking at the ball nor making any effort for the ball. There was a clear goal scoring opportunity cynically denied … only Chapman and his assistants inexplicably chose to pretend that nothing happened.

(MORE: TFC sets defense back years on these two goals)

Two things to note:

Next time SKC manager Peter Vermes complains about an officiating decision that costs his team points – and the fiery Vermes will complain long and hard about pretty much every call that doesn’t go his team’s way – someone needs to remind him of this one. His team took three points when on another day, with a referee more in charge and less afraid to render a big decision, could have brought a completely different result.

And about those points: MLS matches every week, at such a critical time, are turning on refereeing mistakes. Bad ones, too … not just borderline toughies that could really go either way. Playoff spots (and by attachment, jobs) are at stake.

Major League Soccer refereeing is better this year than two or three years back, for sure. And yet there is clearly, undeniably, a long, long way to go.

Below is the elbow incident, followed by the Braun take-down:



  1. bobinkc - Sep 21, 2013 at 8:32 PM


    I fully understand your point about the refereeing in MLS games. Yes, those fouls could easily have resulted in a tie or even a win for Toronto. However, quoting YOUR article: “And about those points: MLS matches every week, at such a critical time, are turning on refereeing mistakes. Bad ones, too … not just borderline toughies that could really go either way.” “…every week…” someone takes one in the backside. This week it just happened to be Toronto and just happened to be Sporting. Next week, who knows who it will be. We just know that it will be someone.

    Yes, Peter raises a mighty cloud to the heavens about poor calls. Is there an MLS coach who doesn’t? Yes it stinks. Yes the world isn’t fair (four-letter word). If the world was fair, all the calls would be right, most of the players would be out every other game by the 6th week of the season, and most games would end in a nil-nil tie.

  2. player169 - Sep 21, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    The only one I had a problem with was the elbow…until I saw Rey rubbing the left side of his face when it clearly would have been the right side of the face that would have been hit had the elbow really made contact. After seeing that and the lack of a close up replay I guess I’ll defer to the two refs. The one in the box was 50/50…

  3. braxtonrob - Sep 22, 2013 at 2:00 AM

    Those are fouls. (Rey embellished the hit, but it was a foul.) I expect much better from Collin. That being said, Toronto FC deserved a late PK, very much.

  4. wfjackson3 - Sep 22, 2013 at 5:40 AM

    Totally ok with your analysis. Not sure SKC is winning at the “officiating lottery” just yet for the entire season. We have been the victims of some awful refs too.

    • tariencole - Sep 22, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Absolutely. We were jobbed of a clear PK on Saad a couple weeks ago. And in the San Jose match, the refs gave our defenders YCs for ‘offenses’ in aerial challenges they turned a blind eye to when the Quakes did the same.

      And a coach SHOULD protest when his team gets jobbed. If for no other reason than to show he’s standing up for his players.

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