Petke, Red Bulls sound off on bad calls in Dynamo clash


A questionable late-game penalty call robbed the New York Red Bulls of a possible three points in a tough road fixture against the Houston Dynamo.

With emotions still raw after the match, referee Ismael Elfath and his crew became the focus of the Red Bulls’ ire. From head coach Mike Petke to the players, no one on the Red Bulls’ side was holding back their criticism of the officiating.

“It wasn’t a handball from what I saw, from what I was told from my player, from what the players surrounding him said,” Petke explained after the match. “I felt the ref handed that to [Houston]. Besides from that, it was a hard fought point on the road and we will take it.”

The incident happened in the 81st minute. Brad Davis lined up a free kick from 30 yards out. His service was headed towards the middle of the box where rookie Red Bull defender Chris Duvall was there to collect the ball. The Wake Forest defender appeared to get either a shoulder or chest to the ball in order to control it.

Elfath saw it differently, calling a hand ball on the infraction and gifting the Dynamo a penalty.

Even as the team awaited to see the replay of the infraction after the match, returning World Cup striker Tim Cahill felt confident enough to assume it was the wrong call. “From where I was standing, it didn’t look like it hit his arm,” he said. “He lent down and hit his chest. Those calls, if it wasn’t a penalty, obviously cost us two points.

“We were winning the game,” he continued. “We were cruising. If it wasn’t a penalty, it is very harsh on us and it would be very hard to take.”

For keeper Luis Robles, the penalty call was just one of many bad judgments made by Elfath and his team.

“We felt like we were a little unlucky on some of the calls,” Robles said. “There was a question on the handball whether it was a handball. That is a deflating situation when the guys have worked so hard and then the referee makes the decision on the outcome of the game.

“[Then], when we clearly had the ball, they do a drop ball and they put our their guy in and put our guy under pressure. It was definitely a hectic ending.

“Normally on the road, you’d say a point is good, the result is good, but in this situation, not only was it taken out of our hands, but we let up a little bit.”

Here is a video of the incident:

  • Joey

    Ismail Elfath is the same referee that screwed over the Cosmos last week in the U.S. Open Cup. This guy isn’t a good referee.

    • Alejandro

      Nice try, but this does not change the fact that a pattern of late in the game 2014 Open Cup decisions have swayed (or attempted to sway) those matches in favor of the MLS clubs. In the NASL v MLS games, it was more than just “bad” reffing.

  • Gruff and Manly Bob

    You gotta to be sure of that call when you make it. 2nd BS PK that cost points this year.

    • Christian

      MLS has always hated the Red Bulls. They should be winning most of their games with the level of talent they have. This team has always had a special target on its backs.