Klinsmann’s not alone: Porter concerned with refs, player safety

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American soccer is a physical game. There’s little doubt about that statement, which makes it incumbent that officials are preparing to have control of a game and player safety.

We read in March the worries from US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann on the beating taken by Clint Dempsey in Major League Soccer, and now Portland manager Caleb Porter has joined the fray.

Discussing an injury to Timbers star Darlington Nagbe, Porter was critical of MLS officials and their protection of players.

“When you’re the most fouled player in the game and you’re getting kicked up and down the field in every single game and the referee doesn’t do anything about it to protect one of the better players in the league eventually you’re going to get a knock and you’re going to get hurt,” Porter said. “And that’s what happened. And it’s a real shame.”

He had some valid points, though in somewhat expected form he proceeded to take it over the line with an outlandish claim that Nagbe would be protected if he was American.

“Why is a quality young player like Darlington Nagbe not being protected?” Porter said. “The good thing is in a couple of years he’ll get his citizenship and now he’ll wear the national team badge and probably then he’ll for sure get protected. But for right now, the refs aren’t doing anything about it. And if they’re not going to do anything about it, people are going to keep obviously adopting that tactic.”

Right, cause USMNT players are being looked after like precious doves. Here’s what Klinsmann had to say last month when asked about Dempsey’s treatment:

“This was one of the main issues already when he came back to MLS last fall,” Klinsmann said. “They really kind of banged him in every game. I mean fouled over the edge. I hope that MLS is having an eye on that.

“What I saw there on the weekend (vs. Toronto FC), there were certain things not within the rules in any more. So I hope our players get protection because they need to be healthy going into this World Cup.”

It may be early to be super critical, especially considering that officials may be out of the swing following the brief labor dispute that kept them from calling the first couple weeks of the season. The early MLS season has been extremely exciting, but there have certainly been an eye-opening number of hard fouls. Many have gone uncalled, and you have to wonder whether MLS will continue to remain extremely attractive to stars if the beatings continue.