View from the Booth: It's all good... but let's now kick on
For me, when things are going badly, I always seek the positives. But when things are going well, I always get a little picky and look at where it could’ve been even better.
And that’s where I am at the moment with the Rapids.
Highlights: COL 1, SJ 1
They’ve suffered just one defeat in eight games, in which time the team has tallied 15 points, whilst still missing key personnel (though the squad is getting healthier by the week). A great run.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw at San Jose was another positive result. Four points from two road games, with three home contests to come, has set the side up nicely to kick on over the next few weeks.
But whilst typing this week’s View from the Booth, I found myself reaching for the copy and paste keys. As with a number of encounters this season, the Rapids fought, battled and competed in every department … and yet, agonizingly, they could not fittingly punish the opposition.
The players only have themselves to blame and – by that – I mean, their performances in recent times have slowly raised our levels of expectation.
Yes, there are still issues in front of goal.
Agreed, San Jose keeper Jon Busch made some great stops, but the Rapids also rattled the woodwork twice (through Atiba Harris and Nathan Sturgis).
I’ve heard some suggest ‘we deserved more from the game’. I’m a firm believer in that you get pretty much what you deserve.
Goal: Sturgis finishes on corner
A second goal would’ve killed off the Earthquakes. Not for the first time, though, the second goal proved hard to come by.
What could’ve been/should’ve been three points, ended up being just one, but a point many of us would’ve taken before kick-off.
Yes, San Jose threw everything at the Rapids second half, hurling bodies up front, desperate for the equalizer. That left them exposed at the back, yet the Rapids were unable to capitalize.
Composure in front of goal, a poor first touch, maybe just instinctively knowing where you are in relation to the goal. All these elements have been lacking at some time or another, and we come back to my points that a) the good times could’ve been even better and b) you usually get what your play deserves over 90 minutes.
Another aspect I’d like to touch upon this week is the MLS Disciplinary Committee. It has a role, penalizing those players deemed to have escaped punishment during a game. The Rapids were without Edson Buddle at San Jose after his challenge on Columbus Crew midfielder Tony Tchani the previous week landed him a one-game ban.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe those guilty of dangerous play should be dealt with.
But both Buddle and the Crew’s Jairo Arrieta – who was hit with a two-game ban following the same game - were seemingly punished during the 90 minutes. Both were shown yellow cards, indicating the referee saw both indiscretions.
Yellow: Buddle tackle on Tchani
Should the MLS Disciplinary Committee be re-refereeing incidents? The committee deemed the two fouls worthy of red cards (and I would agree). And, yet, the referee on the day felt otherwise. Article 72 of FIFA's Disciplinary Code confirms that the decisions taken by the referee during a match are "ﬁnal".
A disciplinary panel usually only acts in two instances – where an incident is missed by the match official, or if a team appeals a red card. In doing what they did, the Disciplinary Committee has undermined the authority of the ref. They are suggesting, in this case, that he got two big decisions wrong.
Therefore, are we in danger of creating a safety net for our referees, who may shy away from making those big calls, safe in the knowledge that the Disciplinary Committee can rule after the event? Should the committee not just be another set of eyes for incidents which are missed in the frantic flow of play? Otherwise, the level of officiating will not improve at the rate we would all like.
As a former referee, officials have my every sympathy, but I know the standard of officiating is a hot topic. It’s something the league is aware of, why former EPL referee Peter Walton was brought on board, and why the PRO (Professional Referees Organization) was created.
Each week, it appears the MLS Disciplinary Committee hands down retrospective punishments for incidents which have already been dealt with by the match official, in contrast to the stance agreed by FIFA and stakeholders. More often than not, in the cold light of day (and with the added benefit of slow-motion replays), the correct punishment is dished out, but the Buddle and Arrieta rulings were not one-offs, which suggests we’re still not where we want to be with our men in the middle.