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LA Galaxy crowned MLS Cup Champions.

In front of a record setting sell-out crowd at the Home Depot Center, LA Galaxy came back from a 0:1 deficit to beat Houston Dynamo 3:1 and claim MLS Cup 2012. While the game was sloppy at times, it was also hugely entertaining and not entirely free from controversial refereeing decisions.  The game was refereed by Silviu Petrescu, who also was voted the MLS Referee of the Year, and the assisstant referees were Daniel Belleau and Darren Clark. For the first time in MLS league history, the MLS Cup final was refereed entirely by a Canadian crew of referees.  Mr. Petrescu, as expected, had his work cut out for him and, for the most part, we believe that he managed and refereed the game well.  For example, Mr. Petrescu’s two penalty calls were spot-on. There is no doubt in our minds that the handball (first penalty kick) and foul on Robbie Keane (second penalty kick) were correctly called.  However, a couple of his decisions – one involving the second penalty -- merit additional scrutiny.

 

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Salazar’s no-call decision pivotal in Dynamo’s win over United!

Sometimes, one referee decision can influence and overshadow the entire match and stir a lot of controversy. The first-leg of the Eastern Conference Championship match between DC United and Houston Dynamo gave rise to such controversy. In the 48th minute of the game - at the time when DC United was leading Houston Dynamo 1:0 - DC United midfielder Raphael Augusto and Houston Dynamo defender Andre Hainault were locked in a fierce foot-race and battle for the ball. Sprinting towards the Dynamo’s goal, both players tried to outmuscle each other. As United’s Augusto appeared to get upper hand over his Dynamo opponent, in a desperate attempt to prevent Augusto from a one-on-one encounter with his goalkeeper, Dynamo’s Hainault hooked his arm around Augusto’s arm and dragged him down to the ground stopping the dangerous attack. As the video below shows, all of this took place merely two or three yards away from the penalty area with no one other than the goalkeeper in front of the two players. Referee Ricardo Salazar, however, who was directly behind and also a few yards away from the encounter, did not spot any infringement and let the play continue.

 

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Openly hostile dissent always deserves to be punished!

The New York Red Bulls clinched their playoff spot after tying Sporting Kansas City 0:0.  The Red Bulls came out energetic and eager to avenge their loss to Kansas City from a couple of weeks before the encounter. The 0:2 loss to Kansas City was also the Red Bulls’ first season loss at home so perhaps, with their high energy and enthusiasm, the Red Bulls wanted to send a message to their potential play-off rivals that “you don’t tread on us at home.” Indeed, the Red Bulls were a better team in just about every category that matters: they outshot their opponents 10:6, their possession was 63.7% to Kansas City’s 36.3% and they had 9 corner kicks to their opponents only 3. Thus, being clearly a much better team in this game, the 0:0 draw had to feel disappointing to the Red Bulls.

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Referee's whistle sparks rare controversy in MLS game.

The New York Red Bulls recorded their first comeback from a two-goal deficit this season when, after an exciting game, they beat the Portland Timbers 3:2 at Red Bull Arena on August 19, 2012.  This was also the game in which Tim Cahill, Red Bulls recent signing from Everton, scored his first goal in MLS. Cahill’s goal, however, was controversial because it looked like it was scored after Referee Jasen Anno blew his whistle, indicating a foul inside Portland’s penalty area. As the video below demonstrates, it appears that Referee blew his whistle immediately after the ball bounced off the Portland Timber’s defender. Mr. Anno’s whistle was not only immediate (premature?!) but also very loud as it can be clearly heard on the video. 

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How obvious must an obvious goal-scoring opportunity be?

On July 18, 2012, Toronto FC continued its recent good form (after a truly horrible start to the season) and defeated Colorado Rapids 2:1 before home crowd at the BMO Field. This was an important game to both teams which were seemingly heading in the opposite direction. Toronto FC was playing for its third win in a row. Colorado, on the other hand, was trying to avoid its fourth loss in a row. Ultimately, Toronto FC prevailed and continued its remarkable recent resurgence while Colorado’s search for a better form goes on.

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