Technically, every call can be seen as questionable, but this whistle from Saturday’s second half at Red Bull Arena falls closer to “not a chance” than “definitely a penalty.” Unfortunately for the New York Red Bulls, Martín Chávez’s exaggerated reaction to contact with Jámison Olave was enough to draw Alan Kelly’s whistle. Moments later, Vicente Sanchez finished into the right of goal to give Colorado a 1-1 resultin Harrison, N.J.
There’s a pretty easier way to tell whether Olave’s running into Chavez (or the other way around): Watch the defender’s feet. It’s not full proof, but it’s often good starting point.
Before contact, Olave stops and stands flat-footed as the Colorado midfielder continues into the penalty area. Eventually, the Honduran international backs into the New York defender before falling to the ground, making Olave pay. Perhaps sticking his chest out as Chávez approaches, Olave may have been penalized for being the bigger man. He gave Kelly the impression he’d committed a foul.
These types of officiating mistakes happen when the regular MLS referees are blowing the whistles, too, so it’s too much to say that the replacements cost Mike Petke’s team. And with 18 minutes left in regulation, New York had time to build on Thierry Henry’s early second half opener. Kelly cost New York points, but the Red Bulls had recourse.
That’s unlikely to placate the Red Bulls, who are now winless through two games this season. At home against a team that will fight for a postseason spot in the West, New York probably expected full points. Instead they’ll have to find the silver linings after improving on last week’s 4-1 loss.
A big part of that improvement were Henry and Olave, returning to the team after missing out on New York’s trip to BC Place, but five other changes also played a part. Roy Miller was back in at left back, pushing Bobby Convey into midfield. Tim Cahill partnered Dax McCarty in the middle, with Bradley Wright-Phillips taking his place up top. Lloyd Sam got the start out wide. After being embarrassed in Vancouver, Petke made wholesale changes.
The retooled team still came up short, though. Two weeks into the new season, New York has yet to refind their Supporters’ Shield winning selves. They look a year older, a year slower – a lot like pessimists predicted two weeks ago.
Here are the full highlights from Saturday’s game: