For many, New York had plenty to be happy about with their performance against DC United. Well, plenty, except for the result.
But for New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke, there was one more thing about the encounter that irked him. Though he touched upon the topic gingerly, the rookie boss was not at all pleased with the physicality of the match and the one sided way infractions were being called.
“I was hoping I would not get asked any questions having to do anything with referees,” he said in his post game press conference. “I swore when I retired from playing, I would never go there again.
“Saying this gently, delicately so I don’t lose money, I would be very surprised if there wasn’t either some suspensions handed out, at least one,” he said.
“We had three guys at halftime with ice on their head from elbows that were blatant as far as I am concerned. I will even throw in DC as well, they had a couple of situations but I am looking forward to seeing the stats. I am pretty sure we out-fouled them 3 or 4 to one at least and that’s not the way I believe that I saw it.”
In fact, New York “out-fouled” DC United by a 12 to 7 margin while incurring three yellow cards to zero. Digging deeper into the statistics, OPTA revealed DC won most of it’s duels through the encounter by a 61 to 51 margin (duels are tallied by the ball winner in 50/50 chances during the match).
While Petke soured on those stats, his players seemed to enjoy the lax officiating of the evening. “I think a ref that lets things go is much better than a ref who is blowing the whistle every thirty seconds,” defender Brandon Barklage said. “But the ref did a good job today.”
Tough as nails midfielder Tim Cahill took his observations of the play a step further. “I didn’t think it was that physical,” he said. “I honestly don’t think it was that physical. Some tackles were dubious, whether it was mine or one of [Perry] Kitchen’s or one of [Marcelo] Saragosa’s or Juninho’s or whatever, but so long as you can shake hands after, the ref accepts that the physicalness is there and the players have got the respect between the ref and the players, he can control the game well. I thought the players controlled their emotions really well.”
While Petke was bothered by the apparent lopsided nature of the calls, he wouldn’t point a finger at the refs for the result.
“Listen, at the end of the day, you can make excuses, point fingers, but it’s a soccer game that ended 0-0,” he said. “The referees had a tough job and I understand that. There are no excuses as far as referees (effecting) the outcome of the game.”