Last season Sporting Kansas City won the eastern conference in MLS but fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Houston Dynamo. Facing a repeat scenario after losing 2-1 in New England on Saturday, SKC manager Peter Vermes is already setting the groundwork for another early dismissal by blaming the referee for Saturday’s loss.
In Tuesday’s press conference Vermes claimed that the officials did not control the game saying:
“we’re going to have to take matters into our own hands,” if necessary.
“It’s for you to watch the game and see,” he said. “It’s not for me to talk about those things, because our players are fully aware what they’ve got to do. In this one, I’m not tipping my hand or anything. We’re going to this game to be very hungry to go play, and we’ll see.”
Vermes felt that the officials missed an offside call on New England’s first goal and a penalty-worthy foul against forward C.J. Sapong late in the match. He always was furious at referee Ismael Elfath’s handling of the clock in stoppage time, after the Revolution’s Chad Barrett fouled defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum near midfield and was given a yellow card.
The foul occurred near the end of the first minute of stoppage time, with four minutes indicated near the end of regulation. The resulting restart didn’t happen for another minute, though, and the match still ended a few seconds ahead of the four-minute mark.
“It never even got to four minutes,” Vermes said. “And there was over a minute of time that the referee spent talking to their players and our players over a set piece. And it was over a minute in extra time that wasn’t even played. So all of those things need to be managed over the course of the game. If they’re not, we’re going to have to take matters into our own hands. And we are primed to do that, because we’re tired of being on the short end of all these things that occur when the game’s not properly managed.”
I agree that referee Ismael Elfath lost control of the game on Sunday. It was a chippy game all night, but Elfath kept his cards in the pocket until the second half and then he needed to hand out seven to maintain some sort of control.
But SKC did not lose because of the referee. They lost because SKC striker Teal Bunbury missed two great chances to score, and then second-half substitute Dom Dwyer missed another great chance in extra time. If they had buried any of those chances then this is a very different looking tie, but New England will feel confident of scoring in Kansas City on Wednesday, and if that happens SKC will need at least two goals to advance to the conference final. And Peter Vermes knows that getting knocked out in the eastern conference semifinals for the second straight year is not good enough for SKC.