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About Mark Geiger’s refereeing performance from Sunday night: The guy did fine

Nov 25, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT

Mark Geiger

Let’s quickly set the record straight about Mark Geiger’s refereeing performance from Sunday night, as Real Salt Lake advanced past Portland in the Western Conference finals: The guy did fine.

I’ve been critical of Geiger before; he seems to do well enough when summoned for international duty, but he sometimes goes lenient and lax when manning the middle in MLS. (It makes you wonder what institutional impediments exist that might keep these guys from being at their best when the assignments come from Major League Soccer?)

But he did little wrong at Jeld-Wen Field on Sunday night – although I am sure some of the good members of the Timbers Army will disagree. That’s called being a “fan,” and thank goodness for them.

Still … No, Lovel Palmer didn’t deserve a straight red for his early, bad tackle on Will Johnson. Admittedly, it looked worse on first view. On the replay, the reasonable among us would probably agree that a caution was the right call.

The controversial pushing call on Rodney Wallace? It was the right choice 100 percent of the time. When a player raises his arms and pushes off so obviously, it’s an easy-breezy choice for the referee. Yes, worse goes on in these corner kick donnybrooks. But painfully obvious fouls must be whistled. Period.

(MORE: Real Salt Lake downs Portland, advances to MLS Cup 2013)

The “goal” later in the half that was disallowed for offside? Even the most partisan fans would nod their noggin in agreement on that one.

The bigger take-away here for me: I wonder if we get so used to complaining about MLS refereeing (I am Chief Engineer on this bullet train of complaint!) that perhaps we are guilty of looking past the performances that go right.

  1. hildezero - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    So in other words, he should keep it up…

  2. overtherepermanently - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    Actually, I think he usually calls a solid game.

  3. geojock - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    The Houston-SKC ref was better than we normally see as well. Of course much of that has to do with SKC playing their more open style at home as appose to their road techniques.

  4. akicks - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    I’ll agree that he got the major calls right, even though I didn’t think so at the time when I was at the Jeld-Wen. However, he let SLC get away with way too much gamesmanship. Every throw-in was 10 yards up field, the wall was two yards too close, free kicks and corner kicks took 20 seconds too long. SLC wanted the ref to move the wall or ask for the throw to be retaken in the right place. A few yellow cards would have eliminated this foolishness but they never came. In no way did this impact the result, but it unnecessarily dialed up the frustration level among players and fans. Fortunately nothing boiled over.

    • Steve Davis - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      Agree generally that gamesmanship (and cracking down on it) is one area where MLS refs need much improvement

  5. socamr - Nov 26, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    It’s been pointed out to me that MLS rules about suspensions for 5 accumulated yellow cards may make referees more hesitant about handing out yellows. I’m speaking without checking (almost always a mistake), but I don’t think the major European leagues have such a system, and EPL referees do not seem so afraid to give cards.

    Maybe that rule needs rethinking – is it really necessary to suspend players for a series of professional, but not dangerous, tackles?

    • talgrath - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      I’m not sure who pointed that out to you, but they were wrong, most leagues use the 5 yellow cards rule (including the EPL), it is one of the few places where MLS follows most other leagues.

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