Referee Fotis Bazakos was surely doing the best he could, but the man in the middle today in Montreal was wrong about two or three different ways.
Bazakos adjudged that Chicago Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz denied a clear goal scoring opportunity by tripping Andrea Pisanu in the 63rd minute. It was a huge decision because the Fire already trailed by a goal on the road. Forcing the visitors to play the last half hour a man down more or less finished this one off. Montreal hit one more and prevailed, 2-0.
And Chicago, off to such a wobbly start in 2013, cannot afford many calls that put the men of Toyota Park further behind the 8 ball.
Not that Bazakos should have considered any of that as he made the big choice. But it just didn’t look like a good choice.
There were two defenders closing in on Pisanu, plausibly near enough to stick a foot in or at least issue a challenge as the Montreal attacker closed on a through ball near the top of Chicago’s 18. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was also closing in, which looks like another reason to give the defense some benefit of the doubt here.
Finally, Larentowicz appeared to be attempting to avoid the contact. A trip is a trip, and intent may not matter in calling fouls, per se. But past giving a free kick (which was the correct decision) a referee can use some discretion in dealing with certain situations.
NBC Sports Network analyst Kyle Martino said it perfectly when he noted: “It’s safe to give a yellow card there and everybody is happy.”
Here is the moment in question: