Rapids Robbed by Referee in Controversial Loss to Galaxy on Saturday Night

CARSON CA (Colorado Rapids Media Relations)- The Colorado Rapids dropped a controversial 3-2 decision against the Los Angeles Galaxy with a questionable penalty kick awarded to the home side in the 90th minute (the third in 5 minutes) tonight in front of an announced 20104 fans at the Home Depot Center.

(To view the goals and other video highlights from this match CLICK HERE).

The home team had the first scoring opportunity of the game in the 13th minute when Guatemalan international Guillermo "Pando" Ramirez dribbled down the sideline and send a low cross in to the heart of the Rapids penalty area. Jovan Kirovski met the ball eight yards away from the goal but his shot went over goalkeeper Joe Cannon’s crossbar.

Ramirez also drew the ire of Rapids fans as he was caught twice on the broadcast elbowing Rapids midfielder Kyle Beckerman in the face on the second instance giving Beckerman a bloody nose that had to be attended to by the Rapids trainer. Rapids Captain Pablo Mastroeni was suspended for 2 matches for this same infraction just last week.

There was no word yet at press time whether the MLS Disciplinary Committee would be reviewing the tape for possible postgame action against Ramirez.

The first goal of the night came in the 21st minute when ex-Rapids player Tyrone Marshall netted his first tally of the season. The Jamaican international who had joined the attack on a corner kick for the Galaxy beat his defender to the ball just outside the small box before burying it past Cannon to his right side.

The Rapids' response came only five minutes later when Jean Philippe Peguero also netted his first goal of the season. The Haitian international outleaped his defender to the ball on a cross from midfielder Chris Henderson placing a powerfully accurate header to the far post of a diving Kevin Hartman.

On their second scoring opportunity the Rapids combined on a quick counterattack in the 41st minute between Leo Cullen and Peguero that left forward Luchi Gonzalez on a one-on-one run for the ball with defender Ugo Ihemelu. The Rapids forward gained a step on the Galaxy defender but was dispossessed off the ball by what appeared to be a push from behind from Ihemelu. The ball rolled off the field for a goal kick.

Another close call for the Galaxy came in the 57th minute when Ramirez’s close range shot went over Cannon’s crossbar.

Cannon came up big for the Black & Blue in the 76th minute when he made a save on Kirovski on a one-on-one play. The 2004 Goalkeeper of the Year came quick off his goal line and made himself big to close the shooting angle for Kirovski whose shot bounced off of Cannon’s chest.

A penalty kick was called on Nat Borchers in the 86th minute after he tackled Ramirez on a quick breakaway by Donovan and Ednaldo da Conceicao that left him running through traffic into the Rapids penalty area and Jair Marrufo whistled what would be the first of 3 penalty kicks in the next five minutes. Donovan converted the penalty kick beating Cannon to his right post.

Another penalty kick was awarded just one minute later but this time in favor of the Rapids when Hartman brought down Gonzalez inside of the Galaxy’s area. Gonzalez had skillfully pushed the ball past a diving Hartman who was left with no recourse other than to take out Gonzalez's legs. Cunningham stepped up to take the PK and netted his third goal as a Rapids player calmly slotting his shot past Hartman to his left corner.

An unprecedented yet another penalty kick was awarded by the referee against the Rapids in the 91st minute when Marrufo whistled a PK for a non-existent foul inside of the Black & Blue’s penalty box. Cannon had come out to cut a cross off a Galaxy corner kick and caught the ball in mid-air colliding with defenders and attackers while doing so. Referee Jair Marrufo called a foul on the play to the dismay of several Rapids players who voiced their opposition vehemently against the referee. Video replays showed no foul on the play. Nonetheless Donovan converted again this time beating Cannon to his other post.

The Rapids will return to the friendly confines of INVESCO Field at Mile High this Saturday May 14th when they will host former Mexican National Team midfielder Ramón Ramirez and Chivas USA for the first-ever time at 7:00 p.m. (MT). The Rapids will celebrate their annual Hispanic Heritage Night on that evening having traditional food music and pre- and post-game concerts by local Hispanic bands.

Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Luchi Gonzalez

In a poll that ran on the Rapids' website fans voiced their displeasure with the refereeing during this match as evidenced by the voting totals below:

Was Referee Jair Marrufo To Blame for the Rapids' Loss in LA?
Yes 80%
No 20%
Total votes: 240

Colorado Rapids Postgame Quotes (courtesy of MLSNet.com and the Rocky Mountain News):

Rapids Head Coach Fernando Clavij
"I will tell you that after every game I call Joe Machnik who's in charge of the MLS referees disciplinary committee. I won't call him again. I think he knows the way I feel. I just pray to God that we have better officiating in the future said Clavijo already in a testy mood coming off the two-match suspension handed down to Pablo Mastroeni for an act of violent conduct that did not even merit a foul during last week's match with the MetroStars.

"From today on I will not make another call to Machnik good or bad. I don't believe that anything like this would go very good in another country but I don't have any control over this. I got fined (by MLS) before one time. I'm not going to get fined twice.

"I accepted the decision on Pablo. I don't agree with it. But when you see (Kyle) Beckerman bleeding out of the nose on an elbow (and nothing is called) it only makes you think. But hey we have to live with it. What may not break you only can make you stronger. I stand behind my players tonight. It's a shame that things happen that really don't belong in the game sometimes.

"I believe we took the momentum away from them. We exposed them. We deserved better than what happened."

Rapids defender Nat Borchers:
"I give (the ref) the first one sure. The second one no way! The first PK they called against me I think it was valid. I broke up a clear scoring opportunity. I did what I had to do.

"I disagree with the ref's call on (the last penalty). In a situation like that two guys are going for the ball they're grabbing each other and if anything that call should be called the other way. There's a physical element to this game where you got to let the players play. I don't think there was any reason to make that call. There's so many things I want to say right now.

"We worked really hard in the game. We didn't deserve to lose."

Rapids goalkeeper Joe Cannon:
(To Cannon the story was Maruffo's call though he never mentioned the officiating in an obscenity-filled outburst):

"I really don't want to talk about the penalty kicks because that's not the story of the game. It's pretty obvious Cannon said. "I'm speechless right now. I'm (infuriated) and I'm embarrassed and I'm frustrated because we have a group of (expletive) guys who work so (expletive) hard and so (expletive) good for this game and our (expletive) city and we get this (expletive) handed to us.

"It's going to be a turning point in our (expletive) season hopefully. If not we're not men."

Rapids midfielder Chris Henderson:
"So much stuff happens in the penalty box. All game. I watch games on TV all over the world in Germany England Spain everywhere. People are fighting for position and things like that happen. Guys can get arrested for some things they do in the penalty box.

"And to make decisions at that time (of the match) ... We're gutted. You just have that feeling coming back twice on the road against a team that's playing well you feel something's been taken away from you."

James Edward Deseret Morning News
"The way Jair Marrufo officiated the final five minutes of Sunday's Mother's Day tilt between Los Angeles and Colorado makes you wonder if Marrufo asked for Landon Donovan's autograph after the game.

"In perhaps the most bizarre ending to an MLS game ever Marrufo awarded three penalty kicks in the final five minutes — two for the Galaxy and one for the Rapids. Donovan buried the final PK in stoppage time as the Galaxy eked out a 3-2 victory.

"If you think Real Salt Lake felt cheated about a 1-0 loss to Chivas on a first-half penalty kick just imagine how the Rapids were feeling late Sunday.

"While the first two penalties seemed legitimate the third was anything but.

"Marrufo seemingly ignored the unwritten rule in sports — players should decide the outcome not a referee. Jersey clutching and grabbing is part of soccer especially in the box where players are always jockeying for position.

"Throughout the first 89 minutes on each of the Galaxy's 10 corner kicks players were constantly fighting for position in the box. Why were those tiny nudges ignored all game until the 89th minute when a penalty kick is as good as a golden goal?"

Scoring Summary:
LA -- Tyrone Marshall 1 (Landon Donovan 3) 21
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero 1 (Chris Henderson 4 Leo Cullen 1) 27
LA -- Landon Donovan 4 (penalty kick) 86
COL -- Jeff Cunningham 3 (penalty kick) 88
LA -- Landon Donovan 5 (penalty kick) 91+

Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon Hunter Freeman Nat Borchers Ritchie Kotschau Eric Denton Leo Cullen (Guy Melamed 60) Kyle Beckerman Mark Chung Chris Henderson Luchi Gonzalez Jean Philippe Peguero (Jeff Cunningham 75).

Substitutes Not Used: Byron Foss Ricky Lewis.

TOTAL SHOTS: 3 (3 tied with 1); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Jeff Cunningham 1 Jean Philippe Peguero 1); FOULS: 18 (Hunter Freeman 4 Luchi Gonzalez 4); OFFSIDES: 6 (Jean Philippe Peguero 3); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Chris Henderson 2); SAVES: 6 (Joe Cannon 4)

Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman Chris Albright Ugo Ihemelu Tyrone Marshall Todd Dunivant Cobi Jones Paulo Nagamura (Mubarike Chisoni 69) Peter Vagenas Guillermo Ramirez Landon Donovan Jovan Kirovski (Ednaldo da Conceicao 78).

Substitutes Not Used: Paul Broome Pablo Chinchilla Steve Cronin Herculez Gomez Guillermo Gonzalez Ned Grabavoy Michael Umana.

TOTAL SHOTS: 18 (Landon Donovan 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Landon Donovan 4); FOULS: 20 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (Mubarike Chisoni 1); CORNER KICKS: 10 (Landon Donovan 10); SAVES: 0

Misconduct Summary:
LA -- Tyrone Marshall (caution; Reckless Foul) 36
LA -- Jovan Kirovski (caution; Reckless Foul) 40
COL -- Leo Cullen (caution; Game Disrepute) 40
COL -- Hunter Freeman (caution; Pushing Holding) 59
LA -- Chris Albright (caution; Reckless Foul) 65
COL -- Jeff Cunningham (caution; Dissent) 85
COL -- Guy Melamed (caution; Pushing Holding) 90

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: -Paul Scott; Emiliano Monje
4th Official: Ramon Hernandez
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-73-degrees