IT'S TOO EASY to rag on the officiating in Major League Soccer.
Quite frankly, whenever a coach wants to talk about how he was undone by the referees postgame, I generally tune out.
Yeah, I know some of the calls have been downright terrible against the Union this year, whether it's been a drag-down in the box that went unseen, or a questionable card infraction (see, Freddy Adu's red for "diving" against Red Bull New York on May 13), but overall, the ridiculousness has remained pretty consistent.
But someone needs to send MLS referee Edvin Jurisevic a gift basket of all things Philly after the gem he gave the Union in the 58th minute of Sunday's match against New England. If you were at PPL with a sideline ticket, you know what I am talking about. If you had a view from the endlines or were watching at home and didn't catch it, let me refresh your memory.
Jack McInerney, streaking down the pitch toward the River End, was tripped up and landed in the Revolution's box. The call was deemed a foul, which it clearly was, but Jurisevic also called it a penalty. Enter Freddy Adu seconds later, who drilled a 12-yard blast past Revs goalie Matt Reis. That moment revitalized both teams, mainly the Union, which played to another dramatic finish at PPL Park, as McInerney played the hero, scoring on a header, leaping into the River End, sending the soldout crowd into a frenzy — blah, blah, blah.
Except that moment didn't start with McInerney. It started with the mistake of Jurisevic for calling it a penalty in the first place. If you look at the game footage, the replay clearly shows McInerney was tripped up just outside the box and landed in the 18. In soccer, a foul is marked at the point of contact, not where the player ended up — meaning on the PK, Adu should have been taking a direct free kick at the edge of the box.
Which I suppose when viewed retrospectively also means Adu should've had a PK against Red Bull New York, too. Because, technically speaking, the same force of contact Jack Mac received to create his penalty was very similar to the trip-up Adu felt against New York that was deemed diving. I have watched the replay for both and they are eerily similar.
Bottom line, officials make mistakes. Some because their vision of the play was obstructed, some because they are trusting the guidance of the linesmen, and at times, simply because of boneheaded call.
Human error is inevitable. All I'm saying is see it both ways — not just when the call is in your favor.
Jack Mac speaks out
On Tuesday, Jack McInerney was a guest on CBS radio's soccer podcast hosted by KYW Newsradio producer Greg Orlandini. McInerney revealed that he had heard in-house rumblings that he was on the trading block the same week former boss Peter Nowak was relieved of his responsibilities. Yes, the same McInerney that, since being let out of the doghouse, has only become the second leading scorer in league play with four goals (six overall).
"The week [Nowak] was fired, I think I was going to be next, actually," revealed McInerney. "I consider myself really lucky that everything turned out in my favor. I know that Peter was talking to teams and that my agent was talking to teams and it had been going on for about a week. I know Peter wasn't happy with me because I was trying to do my own thing, so … I don't know if anything was definite, but real talk started heating up the week he left."
When asked why Nowak may have had it out for him, McInerney said: "Everyone asks me that and I have no answer, really. It was only in his head as to why I didn't play. During that time I approached the other coaches, I talked to Hack [team manager John Hackworth] about it, I had my agent calling Peter and really there was no definite answer. To this day, I still wonder why I wasn't even included on the bench."
Ronaldo returns, amid madhouse
For the second year in a row, Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid will grace Philadelphia with their presence next Saturday, Aug. 11, when they challenge Celtic at Lincoln Financial Field. The match, Madrid's third as part of the World Football Challenge, is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start, which was smart thinking on the part of the organizers. The stadium area is going to be a veritable madhouse next weekend as the Phillies host the Cardinals at 7:05 p.m. across the street. Originally, I am told the match was scheduled for an evening start, but was changed to avoid chaos in South Philly, with the reigning Spanish champions playing across the street from the reigning World Series champions.
Score this Phillies 1, Cristiano Ronaldo 0.
Pretty cool, me thinks
Carlos Valdes and Michael Farfan were on Monday's ballot for MLS player of the month for July. The decision, made by members of the North American Soccer Reporters, will be announced sometime Friday. But what's cool is that this is the first time a pair of Union players have ever graced the ballot. While the July play of Seattle's Eddie Johnson, Real Salt Lake's Alvario Saborio and Los Angeles' Robbie Keane makes for some stiff competition, it was still refreshing to receive my ballot and find two Union players as options.
And no, I am not telling you if I voted for either.