Before you read Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis’ caustic comments on referee Matthew Foerster, here are the relevant facts:
- Foerster came into Saturday’s contest with 15 matches of MLS experience.
- This was a contest between two of the league’s top teams of the moment, the current Eastern and Western conference leaders. Real Salt Lake is currently in the Supporters Shield lead.
- Sporting Kansas City matches are difficult to deal with. The team is smart in its tactical, midfield fouling and, along with San Jose, the league’s most physical team. Plus, manager Peter Vermes will go apoplectic along the sidelines about the smallest things, like10 yards of positioning on a throw-in.
- Real Salt Lake’s Chris Wingert was ejected, receiving his second yellow card in the 66th minute. That turned the match, which RSL was leading at the time. SKC’s game-winner fell in the 97th minute.
- The second yellow was harsh – but the first was probably a yellow and a half as Wingert lined up and leveled Kei Kamara. So, that’s a wash in my mind.
So … here’s what Kreis had to say:
Again, I don’t want to belabor the point about the referee being poor. He is going to be poor. It is the 16th match of his entire career. To referee in a sold-out stadium, in a first-place versus second-place matchup is the wrong game for somebody that has [little] experience in professional soccer refereeing.”
“I asked again, and I’ll say it now: Maybe I need to call them and speak to them directly. There needs to be more thought about how we are assigning the referees.”
So, does he have a point?
Yes and no.
There are instances where I have said the same this year, that these things deserve more thought.
As for Saturday, there were certainly more experienced men out there. In Chicago, Edvin Jurisevic was doing his 60st MLS match (one between two teams nowhere near playoff positions). In Toronto, Jorge Gonzalez was on MLS match No. 101. In Montreal, Hilario Grajeda was on his 90th MLS match. (Although, in fairness, Impact manager Marco Schallibaum is proving quite difficult to deal with, so an experienced man is handy there.)
So, in that regard, Kreis has a point.
But are those guys much better than Foerster? Not much, if we’re being honest.
The other element to consider here is a busy summer of soccer that is stretching the pool of experienced referees.
The bottom line here: Major League Soccer refereeing is improving … slowly. Believe me. It is.
But clearly there is still some distance to go; the best everyone can hope for is continued improvement, and that the bad breaks equal out in the end.