New York Red Bulls speak out against controversial PK call

(Photo By: Rob Tringali, courtesy of New York Red Bulls)

(Photo By: Rob Tringali, courtesy of New York Red Bulls)

For 72 minutes, it was a typical New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew encounter. Physicality ruled the run of play as New York and their counter parts employed a safe, simplistic strategy in search of points.

A 2-2 draw would seem a fitting result for their efforts, but not on this day. A controversial penalty call turned the match upside down and sent Red Bulls coach Mike Petke on a rampage.

“I think he has the right to be ballistic,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said after the match, “but obviously you’re going to have some calls going for you and going against you. I don’t question the referee’s decision; I think there was contact over there and he has the right to call it.

“Too bad it was against him.”

From the the moment the play happened to the postgame press conference, Petke was livid and ready to pay the price for his comments.

“I have my checkbook out and I’m ready for MLS to fine me because it’s not good enough, the referees, it’s not good enough,” he said. “I watched the replay of the penalty of what I already knew to be not a penalty and it backed it up. (Meram) mis-hits the ball and then there’s contact from the side.

“In my estimation, [the referee] is a guy who’s probably getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend who wants to be a part of the show,” he continued. “That’s what it is to me. I could care less what the league fines me or what they say. Those decisions, those type of things, cost jobs and it goes to his partners on the sideline. Hand balls, fouls happen two feet in front of them and they don’t even see it. I’m pissed off.”

Major League Soccer, along with the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), have spearheaded an initiative to try to nurture conversation and transparency between clubs, players and the officials. Neverttheless, critique of the referees has resulted in steep fines for coaches and players alike.

Clearly that is an aspect of the relationship Petke does not agree with.

“This new [Professional Referee Organization] wants us to good relations with the referees but we’re forbidden from approaching them or having any contact with them,” Petke bemoaned.

As for the call itself, referee Geoff Gamble defended his decision. “I had a clear view of the play,” he noted. “The defender pushed the attacker in the back, which is a penal offense, which then resulted in a penalty kick.”

Others were not so convinced.

“For me it wasn’t a penalty,” defender Jamison Olave said. “The player from Columbus mis-kicks the ball, he doesn’t make contact with the ball and his momentum takes him to the ground. There was a player chasing him from behind but there is nothing to be done after he mis-kicks the ball. My opinion is that is not a penalty kick.

“I have tried for three years,” Thierry Henry said. “I don’t talk to them anymore. They are the boss and you have to go by their decisions.”

Here is a video of the call: