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RSL battles from two goals down to tie Revs in match marred by poor officiating

RSLRevs (Getty)

Real Salt Lake entered Monday's match against New England as a heavy favorite expected to win easily. That expectation changed quite a bit after a highly-questionable red card and penalty call just three minutes into the match threatened to doom RSL.

New England took advantage of the early call to jump out to a 2-0 lead, but Real Salt Lake battled back, tying the score at 2-2, and then shaking off a Shalrie Joseph header with a Fabian Espindola goal in the 83rd minute to give RSL a 3-3 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium on Monday night.

Referee Yader Reyes had a shocker, blowing the call on a third-minute penalty that gave New England a penalty kick and RSL defender Nat Borchers a red card. Rajko Lekic scored, and Chris Tierney added a second goal, which made it appear as though RSL was doomed, but the Western Conference power proceeded to dominate the run of play despite being a man down and eventually erased the two-goal deficit on another questionable penalty call.

Shalrie Joseph headed home a goal to halt RSL's momentum, and give New England a 3-2 lead, but a Ryan Cochrane red card leveled the playing field, and Real Salt Lake took advantage by dismantling New England's defense as Alvaro Saborio laid off a perfect pass to Espindola for the game-tying goal.

Here are the match highlights:

What did you think of the match? Impressed with RSL's performance while down a man? Think New England is the worst team in MLS?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I am a ref and really embarrassed by the so called pro’s at the RSL game last night.!? By the way those of you say Benny was offside’s..uh no he was BUT it was a goal kick. Freaky but nonetheless one of those rare times NOT offside’s like a throw in?

    Re The PK atrocious call and I 100% agree with PD ..Time for FIFA to play catch up.. No ref is perfect> You can’t call what you can’t see for whatever reason? Time for Instant replay challenges Each coach should get 2 per game one for ea half.

    An incident like this the 4th official shows the ref what we all see on the BIG SCREEN replay.. and he puts his ego in his pocket and admits he goofed. Period. Same would apply for a dive a hand ball (Think Henry against Ireland)

    Parts of the game where players cheat etc would be quickly eliminated and we can concentrate on playing soccer not criticizing poor refs etc?

    FIFA should use the technology we have this is 2011 not 1955 Time for a reality check. A 4th official on the goal line is NOT the answer either!

    What will it take for FIFA to play catch up Dare I ask as they are so corrupt and useless anyway? That’s my 2c

    Coach K

  2. Just watching the replay and the first two goals by the Revs were blown call and non-call by the ref the second goal was an absolute pull down by Lekic to allow the ball by the wall. The only earned goal by the revs was the third goal by Joseph. Lame, Lame, Goal. Nice job MLS. RSL has been ripped out of 6 pts this season on Lame calls. Philadelphia, DC (Davies), NE

  3. MLS has no procedure for appealing red cards, except in the case of mistaken identity. So there’s no way for RSL to appeal the red card unless the league changes the rules– which I think they should. Not just because of this, but because of things like this. Set it up like other leagues where red cards can be appealed but if the appeal is frivolous the suspension is extended.

    It’s flat-out ridiculous that Borchers is going to miss the next game and have to pay a fine for, essentially, clearing the ball.

  4. Ives, I’m surprised that you wrote “That expectation changed quite a bit after a *highly-questionable* red card and penalty call just three minutes into the match threatened to doom RSL.”

    My surprise is that you didn’t flat out say that the call was wrong. It was a great play by Borchers to catch up to Benny, not foul in the box and prevent Benny from even getting a shot off. To call a PK and give Borchers a red card (probably due to DOGSO) was so wrong.

    I think you should have a rating for refs so we know which refs are going to ruin a game.

  5. I think that everyone understands that people make mistakes. The problem is with the arrogance to not ask for help. If you are 50 yards behind the play like the ref was, then before doing something rash, like completely destroying the game, go over and talk to the linesman who had a good angle at it.

    I mean some people have said that the officiating could be fixed by adding more refs, the problem is that they don’t use the ones they have now. The same thing was true for the Davies dive a few weeks ago. The sideline ref knew it was a dive but he was never asked by the center ref.

    But the ref last night was just terrible. All 3 of the Revs goals were on questionable, at best calls. That 3rd goal, while a great header, came off the most innocent shoulder to shoulder challenge of all time where Olave is just bigger and Feilhaber just flopped. Also some of the calls against the Revs were terrible even though none of those lead directly to goals.

  6. It was not a tackle from behind. He was behind the guy as he kicked the ball but he did not leave his feet and slide or go cleats up. If he slide straight from behind then I would agree with you that it is reckless even if he got the ball. But Borchers just caught up to the guy and cleared the ball of his face.

  7. I absolutely love Taylor Twellman in the broadcasting booth. He is by far the best announcer for MLS. Finally there is an American in the box that isn’t completely terrible. His comments in and of themselves are entertaining and he actually sound like he knows what he is talking about. While the officiating was bad the announcing was a bright spot that is generally unseen when watching MLS games.

    USSF clearly needs some work on all levels save the womens game. Their officials consistently ruin MLS games and the development structure within the country is still in sad shape. Things are getting better in the youth ranks but it is mostly independent of the USSF and more in the hands of MLS finally growing up a bit and establishing its first academies.

    On another note, New England are horrible. They were outplayed by RSL even when up a man and are extremely fortunate to have “earned” a point in this match. I’m starting to think perhaps Jason Kreis might be an interesting person to lead the USMNT. He has taken a pitiful RSL side and turned them into a powerhouse that plays an attractive style of soccer. Not only has he managed this but he has done so with players that were less than stellar before landing in Sandy, Utah. Ned Grabavoy looked like Messi at times with his touch and dribbling skills and who would have ever thought Ned could be so skilled on the ball before he reached RSL? Kreis has done very well.

  8. Amen, that ref was horrible, and not like trying hard but still bad, but just incompetent and not caring bad. MLS needs to fis this, it’s getting bad.

  9. One day we will have a video method that allows us to see exactly what the ref saw. I wondered if anyone would mention that the ref was directly behind the play. There was no way he could see that Borchers cleanly got the ball which then bounced off of Feilhaber’s face and out-of-bounds. All the ref could see was that Borchers R leg came across Feilhaber’s body. The assistant ref on the sidelines also had a poor angle as Borcher’s body was blocking a view of the ball. This ref certainly didn’t mean to make a terrible call. I think he made the only call he could. Of course, the replay angles showed that it was entirely incorrect. The only way to avoid this error is by video replay. Let the debate begin.

  10. As enthusiastic a fan of replay as I am, I’ve never thought (or for that matter, heard suggested) that replay should be used to overturn officials’ discretion as to FOULS. In any sport.

    Even the NFL doesn’t allow replays of penalty calls, unless they’re purely automatic rule-based penalties like 12 men on the field.

    The solution to the “crappy officiating makes bad foul calls” problem is just to put more referees on the field.

  11. The offside call against the Galaxy during a throw-in was also unforgivable. Where does USSF find these refs? Hanging out in front of Home Depot?

  12. With the national team, he’s almost always been used as a sub– maybe he’s just not really built to go 90 minutes.

  13. The irony is that that USA-Italy 2006 game was possibly the single most blatant, deserved red card I’ve ever seen in the game of soccer. If ever there was a game to make a team play 10 vs. 11 and NOT “make up” the call, that was the game…

  14. I could understand the center official getting the call wrong, but the linesman should have been able to inform the decision… why pay all those officials to get it wrong when you can simply use REPLAY?

    It’s so simple: Coaches get 3 challenges a match. Ruling takes a max of 2 minutes and is done by the 4th official who is already within 10 feet of a monitor. If the ruling isn’t overturned they lose a sub (same amount of time it takes to change a sub, maintaining the flow of the game). Why is this so hard to figure out?

  15. OK, so which is it? We need to eliminate tackles from behind as they have cost this league some of it’s best attacking players, or we can’t call anything from behind if the defender gets any part of the ball.

    Borchers was at the least reckless on that challenge and the attacker is going towards the goal with no one else back. To defend that tackle is to defend the ream tackle against Panama in the Gold Cup. Both were dumb and both resulted in PKs. That one was going towards goal is the major difference in earning a red card.

  16. ‘Tear gesture’? I thought he was saying, ‘I could referee this game with one eye better than Reyes with his two’…

  17. As a Revolution fan, I’ve been disappointed by Benny. I really thought he’d be a dominant player, especially when paired with Shalrie, but I think all that partnerships’s done is make Shalrie’s greater effort and intensity more obvious. The announcing crew last night ventured the constant losing was wearing on him, but–month-long injury absence aside–this isn’t really a recent phenomenon.

  18. at the speed it happened and split second reaction a ref has to make the call, i didn’t think it was a bad call. of course replay makes everyone look like a genius or a moron. if we didn’t have TV showing us a million times the replay, im sure most of us would of thought it was the right call. doesn’t change the fact that mls & ussf need to do much better w/ the officials we have but……

  19. Dude, I caught some of that match last night and thought the exact same thing. At first I assumed it was because he was playing up top – but he did drop back into the midfield a fair amount – and I never saw him show open to receive the ball. Totally agree with you. Not sure if thats normal or not…

  20. Just to be clear, Benny was not offsides at all on the the first goal scoring opportunity…just like in a throw in, there is no offsides on a goal kick. Borchers and Olave got caught napping when the let Benny set up 10 yards ahead of them on the goal kick. Having said that, Borchers did a great job to hustle back into the play and incredibly cleared the ball off of Benny’s face for what should have been a goal kick, (and of course was instead called as a PK by the ref).

    RSL has been struggling to find its game again after the Morales injury…I think last night’s game could be a turning moment in the season as they appear to have their confidence and desire back.

  21. Why would the MLS assign a game televised on ESPN to this imposter officiating crew? Benny was offsides by 10 yards on that goal kick, and neither the AR nor head official could judge Borchers challenge correctly? Although I’m pretty sure Reyes (ref-in-training) didn’t even bother to ask the AR, he went straight to the players and pulled his card. The other 2 free kicks the Revs scored from (although nice plays) weren’t even fouls…sheesh what a very, very poorly officiated game. We should just scrap officials and have the players call their own fouls.
    All that being said, it was nice to see RSL playing with some fire under their asses again, 11 v 10 was a good matchup with the Revs. The Revs seems to have some nice pieces, but also a lot of garbage that are unable to complete a pass greater than 10 yards. RSL went to Foxborough a few months ago and beat them 2-0 with their scrubs.

  22. His arm wasn’t against his body he had a “chicken wing” outstretched if you will. However it did look like it was mostly a graze, so I agree it was harsh, but no where near as harsh as the Borchers call and red. Even the two calls that led to the other Revs set piece goals were really soft. The referee was awful, and it really was both ways, but the worst and most game changing call by far was against RSL at the very start of the game.

  23. I absolutely loved Kreis’ tear-gesture toward Nicol. Hilarious.

    Some of the commenters are defending a call or two, but the 2nd penalty is still really harsh even if it actually does touch his arm (his arm is against his body) and the 2nd yellow for whats-his-name is also pretty harsh.
    Just let play go and reign things in when they (or before they) get out of hand.

  24. Help me out Revs fans. I haven’t seen much of Benny since he has made the move to NE. But man does he take a lot of time off. Last night he was barely jogging off the ball, played very little defense, and often stood around watching the ball. Is that typical?

  25. Yes, the referee was atrocious. However, the players need to accept a little responsibility as well.

    First, Borchers let Feilhaber get 5 yards behind him and then he and Olave let a goalkick bounce and get over their heads. Yes, Borcher’s challenge was clean, but it was from behind, and the referee had a terrible angle on it. By having a poor starting position and letting the ball bounce, Borchers put himself in a bad position and paid the price.

    Second, I couldn’t get over how naive the Revolution players were. They had to know they got a complete freebie from the referee and should have been suspicious that he might try to find a make up call (USA-Italy ’06 anyone?). So, instead of being on their best behavior, they continually fouled late (Joseph, Feilhaber,Cochrane twice), and extended an arm towards a cross (Alston). You gotta know the ref is going to be looking for something to level the playing field. They too got what they deserved.

    Ugly all the way around…

    A disenchanted MLS and Revs fan

  26. USSF trains, supplies and assigns match officials. Not MLS.

    A little simplistic explanation, but it’s important to know that MLS in some way is also a victim of the poor officiating.

  27. Glad we could battle back to a draw. I heard that Sabo got pulled out of the wall by the arm for the second goal. The officiating has gotten bad. Checketts said several other owners are disgruntled and are planning on telling the league.

  28. Well that one atrocious call cost RSL their most solid defensive player and meant they played one man down for 2/3’s of the game, but maybe you’re right in saying the game was not marred by poor officiating. As someone that was there in the stadium, I’d say it was completely f$&ked over by piss-poor reffing.

  29. Bravo! Now that’s Journalism I can really appreciate!

    I had no idea the MLS refs were actually employed by USSF.

    They should jump on the national trend and open a developmental academy for refs.

  30. Obviously we can see that Borchers didn’t foul Feilhaber, but once you call that a foul, it has to be a red card, so it’s one bad decision, not two. Then, the ball wasn’t even on the penalty spot for Lekic’s penalty. Probably negligible but still poor officiating. The RSL PK was legitimate, as the ball hit the NE defender’s outstretched arm. The Cochrane send-off was perfectly legitimate, even when he referee isn’t “giving out cards like it’s someone’s birthday.” That’s a caution everywhere in the world and the standards for bookings don’t change and shouldn’t change when a player is already carrying a caution. I didn’t see the game, but from what I’ve seen in this video, the game was not marred by poor officiating, it just had one atrocious call.

    New England is definitely in the bottom tier of MLS, but may not necessarily be the worst team in the league.

    – DC United and MLS supporter

  31. Worst team in MLS is the officiating team! Why is it that every week in this league we are forced to choke down another helping of poor, poor officiating? There seems to be a reffing debacle each week that’s bigger than last week’s. US Soccer needs to do something about it fast! The poor officiating is quickly washing out the great progress in nearly every other aspect of the game in America! Players and coaches are constantly held accountable for their decisions, it’s passed time for officials to face scrutiny and accountability of the same sort and be held to the same commitment of quality!

  32. “The referee is handing out cards like it’s someone’s birthday”

    Laughing at that and laughing at the pathetic pool of officials this league has. It’s getting to the point where this league is being laughed at for such incredible and consistent incompetence.


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