Tonight the sell out crowd at Rio Tinto witnessed one of the craziest soccer matches I’ve ever attended. Unfortunately, one of the main factors contributing to the craziness, was the quality of the officiating. This was the 16th MLS match for the head referee, and his inexperience showed. In his post-game comments, Jason Kreis praised his team for continuing to battle despite having several questionable calls not go in their favor. One of which was a straight red card shown to D Lovell Palmer in the 59th minute, forcing RSL to play the remainder of the match down a man, losing 1-0. When asked if the red card was undeserved, Kreis hesitated, but in the end decided speak his mind saying, “I think it needs to be said that that referee was not ready to referee that game. That game – with a sellout crowd, July 4th, in front of our fans in that kind of atmosphere that we provide here – is too much for what I think is a very inexperienced referee that doesn’t have a good feel for the game. I don’t think it’s his fault – I’m not going to berate him for it – but I think that the person who makes that assignment ought to be thinking about that as we go forward. Just the same as a coach does with a young player who is not ready in a big game, somebody needs to think about that going forward. Referees like that aren’t ready to be involved in that type of match with that type of atmosphere.”
Even playing down a man, RSL continued to press, hoping to find the equalizer. It would come in the 75th minute on a corner kick from MF Javier Morales that was buried in the back of the net off the head of MF Luis Gil who subbed on in the 58th minute. Unfortunately, on the very next play Philadelphia would come right back and score after another questionable no call left F Conor Casey in front of an empty net for the easy goal. Once again, RSL would press forward looking to get another equalizer. And once again, the equalizer would come. With just seconds left before the final whistle blew, GK Josh Saunders sent a ball into the box that lead to a handball on Philadelphia D Raymon Gaddis, and a penalty kick awarded. Morales took the penalty which struck the right post and caromed in to tie things up at 2-2.
RSL sits on top of the standings in the west with a 10-5-4 record and 34 points. After a 10 day layoff, the team will be back in action as they hit the road to take on FC Dallas on Saturday, July 13th at 7:00 pm MT. Dallas is currently in second place in the west with a record of 8-3-6 and 30 points. Follow the live blog of the match at http://www.kirsoccer.com/match/11287/.