Jason Kreis vs. referee assignments; is the Real Salt Lake manager correct in his complaints?

35 Comments

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.

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images
1 Comment

We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

Leave a comment

In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Click play on the video above to watch the fourth episode in full.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

Atlanta United on Twitter/@ATLUTD
Leave a comment

It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

Getty Images
1 Comment

Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.