Before we get into comments from the Portland Timbers’ manager, let’s be responsible and frame this thing in the proper context.
Timbers manager Caleb Porter said his team played well in the 1-0 loss. Not perfectly, but pretty well – a pretty accurate assessment. The visitors created better chances in the first half, especially considering they were missing their emotional fulcrum, Will Johnson, but did dropped a notch after the break.
“In the end, we’re going to keep suffering if we don’t find goals and if we don’t sort out set pieces,” Porter said, referring to the ongoing issues with defending corner kicks and free kicks.
That said, Porter also commented (without blaming) referee Jair Marrufo.
To be fair, I thought the officiating was very lopsided, extremely lopsided, for whatever reason. They have guys who commit three, four fouls, the same one, no card, and we commit one and it’s a card. Watch the tape, you explain it because I can’t understand it. We’re talking the same exact foul, same exact foul, we’re doing a foul, they’re doing a foul, and we get a card and they don’t get a card. Explain it. I don’t get it. It makes no sense to me.”
“[Osvaldo Alonso] commits five fouls on Nagbe, no card. We commit one and get a card. How does Alonso not get a card when he fouls a guy five times? Alonso is a tremendous player, and listen, if you can foul a guy like Nagbe five times and not get a card, what are you going to do? You’re going to keep fouling him. He’s smart.”
Indeed, Alonso needed to be booked for about three of those fouls. If nothing else, he needed a card for persistent infringement, the violation on which MLS officials inexplicably refuse to get with the doggone program.
But Marrufo was an equal opportunity poor referee on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Timbers center back Pa-Modou Kah was lucky to remain on the field after some of his shenanigans, which included kneeing Eddie Johnson in the head as the Seattle attacker sat on the turf following a tough foul. Does anybody really believe that Kah, a veteran, professional athlete, is so clumsy that he couldn’t avoid belting a stationary object with his knee?
Here’s where this one needs to land: Surely there was a better choice than Marrufo to officiate the league’s showcase match of the entire freaking summer!
Clint Dempsey said it best at the final whistle, when he said the high-profile match was tough and “reckless” at times.
Good referees can wring the “reckless” out of a match with savvy management. Marrufo, with his reputation for “old school” MLS refereeing, where officials allow too much of the rough and tumble and stubbornly prefer not to issue cards that will help control a match, apparently cannot.
That is PRO (the continent’s professional refereeing overseer) and U.S. Soccer match assigners being asleep at the wheel.
Seriously, how do you not understand how many eyes were going to be on this one?