New York Cosmos sound off on poor officiating in U.S. Open Cup ouster


The New York Cosmos were not happy with the officiating during Tuesday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park — and they refused to bite their tongues about it after the match.

“It was clear today that it was a show, and the principle guy in the show was the referee,” Cosmos boss Giovanni Savarese said after the match.

New York were the victims of two crucial penalty decisions late in the match. Referee Ismail Elfath refused to call a clear penalty on Mads Stokkelien who was pushed from behind on a breakaway by the Union’s Sheanon Williams in the 101st minute. In the second half of overtime, however, Elfath saw no problem calling Jimmy Ockford for a foul in the box as he and Maurice Edu tangled for position.

“No question. I know so, it was a PK – clear,” Savarese said of Stokkelien’s infraction. “It was more PK that one then the one they gave for them. I don’t even think [Ockford’s foul] was a PK.”

“If you saw [Edu’s] reaction, he gets right up, doesn’t ask for a PK or anything like that,” veteran defender Hunter Freeman says of the Union’s awarded penalty. “I spoke to him afterwards. Me and Mo go back a long time with the National Teams and he still doesn’t know what was called.

“As players a lot of times we may beg for a PK or something, but I think it’s a clear indication when there is no reaction from the player there was no foul. That, for me, makes it seem as though the ref was just looking to give him something.”

“We’ve been robbed,” Savarese concludes.

The feeling of bias from the officiating crew wasn’t an opinion unique to Savarese, either. A normally mild-mannered player, Freeman blasted the performance of the referees and went so far as to question their motives in making their calls.

“It’s disappointing and frustrating to put all that hard work in for the guy in the middle to give it to them there in the end,” he said. “The same thing with the red cards. Why do we have two and they have one? I have no idea. There was more than one of their guys involved in it and of course there was more than one of our guys as well.

“He was looking for something on their behalf to benefit them, not us.”

“I don’t think I have ever experienced that before,” Stokkelien said after the match. “We fought so well for 120 minutes and thought we deserved so much better. When we didn’t get the PK and five minutes later they earn a very questionable PK, that’s the way it is. We felt the referee was against us.”

Asked if the referees offered any explanation on their calls, Savarese said they did not.

“There was no communication,” he said. “He gave red cards to our guys, to Ockford, and he didn’t do anything.

“The referee ruined the game and it was very clearly that he put his hand on this game and it’s a shame because our guys worked hard and [Philadelphia] worked hard and it could’ve been a much better game for sure with a better end. And I don’t think our guys deserve to have a such a mediocre referee.”

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  • Welcome to American soccer and US Open Cup . Why is it such a big deal that Refs were so bad , if you actually been into few open Cup games you will know that many times Refs were bias torwards MLS sides . Blunt handballs , red card fouls or pitch that wasn’t preperd for the game . That is why after fiasco in Harrisburg ,RB don’t take it seriously .

  • Patrick

    Are we really making excuses for RB? Forget that it was a Cup game. It was the 1st chance they had to show how much better they were then a start up actually in NY and they got crushed!

  • Akbar

    MLS and US Soccer’s well known biz partnerships starting to give them both a black eye in the PR dept. Stuff like this doesn’t help. Fixed beyond a doubt.

    • Akbar
      • Snags

        Good old Soccer United Marketing. Maybe a journalist with some guts will look into this.

        • 2 many hands in the soccer cookie jar can make people greedy, greed leads to corruption. @USSoccer #USSF have a potential big problem on their hands, they are just to involved in every aspect of the sport.

  • Brooklyn1976

    Shame! US and Japanese Refs have grown to be known as the worst.

  • Marco

    Why can’t it just be a poorly officiated game? Why does it have to be a conspiracy? In Round 4 of the Open Cup four NASL teams got through. In Round 5, one. Maybe they are just getting weeded out in the later stages. Cosmos scored last night and Philly answered within a minute. After that it was all Union for the remainder of the second half. Cosmos were fortunate to get to OT. Why all this nonsense about the ‘soccer monopolists’ fearing the Cosmos and the NASL. The NASL is going to be left behind. The Cosmos have a real problem. They didn’t average above 4,500 fans for that 9 game farce of a spring ‘season.’ If they don’t win the Belmont bid, what’s their Plan B? CONCACAF will not grant a Champions League bid to the Soccer Bowl winner (why should they? unprecedented). Their ownership is not going to pump money to build a super club that makes its day-to-day home in a second division league. The Emirates shirt sponsorship is worth $1 million…it doesn’t even pay for Marcos Senna. What is the Cosmos endgame if all of their stated goals (stadium, Champions League) fall through? It took the Red Bulls coming to Hofstra for them to draw their first meaningful crowd of 2014.

    • Ollie V.

      Because there were consistent abnormalities in several Open Cup games, all favoring MLS clubs – and because there is clear financial motive on the part of USSFMLS.

      As for the rest of your rant – only time will tell. Cosmos ownership should expect a long bumpy road in a market like this.

      • Ollie V.

        One of the leagues should not be an exclusive business partner with the federation. It reeks of conflict of interest.

        • Take a look at this > Top of the page upper right hand corner & you tell me what PRO priorities are (Hint LOGO) Prety telling if you ask me !

          • Ollie V.

            SUMs it all up. The NASL and NPSL should start making a LOT of noise about the cozy relationship between MLS and the federation that is supposes to be governing them.

            • OpenCupFan

              Conflict of interest all over the place. It doesn’t even matter if the “fix was in” or not, the mere appearance of bias should be enough to call into question this relationship between one league and the federation.

              • jspech


  • Great conversation! Hearing rumblings around the net about creating a fan organization to address these and other issues. Whoever takes initiative on this should contact Fans Europe for advice. They have already gotten their organization up and running. Here is a link:

  • Mike

    I agree the officiating was horrible at the game. However he carded the Union multiple times in the first half while refusing to card the Cosmos players for very similar fouls. If you keep crying to the Officials so bad that two of your assistants get ejected, don’t expect sympathy from the the ref if there is a close call later in the game. The constant chippyness of the game got overheated after the player from the Cosmos kick the Union goalkeeper while holding the ball. It should be noted that the Cosmos targeted the Union Goalkeeper multiple times earlier in the game while he had the ball without fouls being given. The official then needed to get control of the game It should also be noted that the Officials didn’t call call a clear PK for the Union early in the game when when the Cosmos tripped a Union player in the box. There were bad calls both ways, but then to kick a player when he is down on the ground is a classless move.

  • Alejandro

    Angry about the unfair US soccer system? Retweet this to the world:

    • Ollie V.

      This should be Tweeted to every supporters group and fan organization in North America and Europe. Those are people who will spread the word.

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