Sounders managers sounds off on referee in U.S. Open Cup final

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Seattle Sounders manager Sigi Schmid was not a bit pleased with referee Ricardo Salazar following Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup final, when visiting Seattle fell to Sporting Kansas City.

It’s difficult, you’re playing against a team at home so the crowd helps them. When you’re playing against the referee as well, and he makes some absolutely, I thought, ridiculous calls, it’s very tough to win.”

On the one hand, Schmid has a point about his main point of contention, the 84th minute handball that was uber-iffy at very best. Salazar (in my opinion the top MLS referee) didn’t appear to have a good angle and probably got that one wrong.

But I bristle when managers, officials or players put this untoward, conspiratorial slant on it. If Salazar got it wrong, he got it wrong. But please do not imply that a referee is intentionally attempting to affect the outcome of a match (or even the lesser offense of purposefully favoring one team over a series of decisions). That’s a much darker place to visit.

I much prefer the way Sounders defender Zach Scott (who provided his team with the late equalizer) handled this thing:

I have a ton of respect for the refs in our league, for Ricardo in particular. He’s a great ref. I think you guys saw the game. I think you guys saw the replays. I’m not going to comment any further on that. Sigi can comment on the refs all he wants. I’ll be the first guy to put my hand up if I make a mistake. I hope the refs do the same.”

That’s a guy saying “the referee made a mistake.” That’s OK.

But taking it further is taking it too far.