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Despite new appeals process, RSL not disputing Olave red card

OlaveRed (Getty Images)

Real Salt Lake feel a bit wronged for what happened in the 69th minute of their 3-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday night. Even though the club has an opportunity to rectify the situation to a degree — turning over the loss obviously isn't an option — it is choosing to pass.

In the past, teams in MLS could only have red cards overturned in case of mistaken identity, but that is no longer the case. There is a new rule in place this season that allows teams to appeal red cards, but at a steep risk. Sources confirmed to SBI that to participate in the appeal process, teams have to post a $25,000 bond at the beginning of the season that they risk losing if their appeals are not successful. Even further, the player suspended risks having to miss an extra game if the play is not overturned. Those stipulations are in place for teams not to loosely challenge every decision that does not go their way.

Each team is permitted to challenge as many plays as they want in a given season, but two decisions that don't get overturned results in the club losing appeal privileges for the remainder of the current season. If any of those appeals is judged to be incredibly frivolous and unnecessary, a team loses the right to challenge for the current season and the following season. With those guidelines in place, RSL has elected to let Jamison Olave's controversial red card from Saturday go without a fight.

"It's not a super clear-cut incident," a spokesperson for RSL said. "Playing into that is that we have three games this week (including the San Jose one). You could make the reasonable assumption that Jamison probably would have rested anyway, because we have another game on Saturday."

The play in question happened when referee Elias Bazakos issued Olave a red card for appearing to deny Steven Lenhart an obvious goal-scoring opportunity midway through the second half of what was a 1-1 game at the time. Replays showed that Olave entered into a fair challenge with Lenhart for the ball until the San Jose forward positioned himself in front of Olave, grabbed the Colombian defender's shorts and pulled him into his body to make it appear like an egregious foul. Bazakos, trailing the play, did not have the luxury of replay and immediately sent Olave off for the foul, which reduced RSL to nine men for the final 21 minutes of the match.

Here is video of the Olave-Lenhart incident:

Another deterrent for clubs to appeal plays is that since the league's disciplinary committee reviews all plays anyway, there's potential for certain aspects of plays to be rectified retroactively without an appeal. In RSL's case, there is little incentive for the club to challenge Bazakos' ruling in hopes of sparing Olave the red card, especially with the potential taxes that come along with it. The disciplinary committee could look at the play and choose to take action on Lenhart or lessen Olave's punishment (i.e. rescind the fine) if it chooses to, as well.

No team tried to use the appeal system yet this season. Any potential appeal would be heard by a representative of U.S. Soccer, the Canadian Soccer Association and a member of PRO, the new referee organization created to improve the quality of refereeing in North America.

As for Lenhart, who has a bit of a reputation as an instigator, Saturday night was is not the first time he has coaxed referees into making a call that has swung a result in San Jose's direction this season. 

He was able to draw an off-ball foul on Marc Burch in the box in Seattle on March 31 that gave San Jose a penalty kick that led to the only goal in the Earthquakes' 1-0 victory over the Sounders. His latest act involving Olave put San Jose in position to strike late against RSL, which they did twice in stoppage time to take another three points off a chief conference competitor.

With RSL not appealing the card, Olave will miss Wednesday's match against FC Dallas, pressing Chris Schuler into action. Fabian Espindola is also suspended for the match for his red card, which came on a two-footed, studs-up challenge to Sam Cronin, meaning that Paulo Jr. is a likely candidate to start up top alongside Alvaro Saborio.


What do you think of the new appeals process? Do you think RSL should appeal Olave's red? Do you think the league's referees have been undermined too much considering the new disciplinary committee rulings and this appeals process? What's your take on Lenhart as a player?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. LOL. Lenhart is a POS and a sh*t player.

    I’m a Galaxy fan so I’m a netural on this. Should have been a no-call or a foul on Lenhart in my opinion. Olave was running off of Lenhart’s shoulder and he would have gotten past Lenhart if not for Lenhart grabbing Olave’s shorts. Lenhart is fully within his right to extend his arm out and shield the ball, but not to grab Olave and essentially hook him. Lenhart pretty much took Olave to the ground and nearly pantsed him.

  2. I thought the same thing when I read the headline until I read further, which is what you should do next time.

    If you lose an appeal you forfeit money and the player (Olave) is suspended for even more games. Ad to this that there is the disciplinary committee and with two games in the week for RSL and Olave having played all minutes of RSL’s matches it isn’t a bad idea to rest him anyways. I doubt we’ll see any appeals from clubs this year with these deterents in place.

  3. One way of seeing this play is to ask: would a ref (with a clear view) call this a foul at midfield? I’d guess 20% of the time referees would call this a foul. It’s not a shadow of a doubt foul that all refs would instantly agree is a foul. So to call it a red card dramatically reduces the chances of the team on the receiving end of the card being able to compete.

    It’s over now and RSL has a Chris Schuler who would be a big upgrade starter for lots of MLS teams (like NYRB for example). Even if the disciplinary committee does reinstate Olave (improbable) Kreis would still start Schuler in the Wed night match. Also Blas Perez is out for his violent elbow so both Dallas and RSL will be missing starters.

  4. I think most “no foul” supporters are missing the point of “shoulder-to-shoulder”. Shoulder-to-shoulder means you are allowed to contact shoulder-to-shoulder when contesting for a 50-50 ball. It does not mean shoulder-to-shoulder contact is fair game in other situations. You cannot hockey check someone at midfield just because it’s shoulder-to-shoulder. Nor can you knock someone down shoulder-to-shoulder in order to reach a ball on the protected side.

    Clearly, in this situation A) the contact is shoulder to back and B) the ball is on the protected side of Lenhart and not reachable by Olave unless Olave knocks him down, which is a foul regardless of shoulder contact.

  5. Kettle,
    If you read my entire post I deal with several other things about the game that I consider to be whining from the RSL fans. I get how you’re all upset at the call, but some of the comments here are incredibly myopic.

  6. Really Sore Losers? To all Quakes fans asking that RSL fans stop blaming the refs and flopping players, I just wish we could see how you would react if you were in our shoes. Let’s just say that one of our players flopped and cost you the game, say Saborio. I bet you would probably blame that one game for your unsuccessful season, give Saborio some clever nickname, and continue to plague message boards about the injustice of that game for over a year… oh wait

  7. You seem to be uninformed about the laws of the game. A player is allowed to extend his arm. He is not allowed to grab an opponent’s uniform, nor is he allowed to impede an opponent’s progress with his arm. Holding a player, as Lenhart did, is supposed to result in a caution.

    Mere contact is irrelevant. Obviously a player can contact another without committing a foul.

  8. so true Matt – San Jose’s 11 players were better than RSL’s 9… It’s clear that pure talent got San Jose it’s spot atop the WCS.

  9. I thought the comments solicited by Ives were regarding the appeals process and RSL’s decision not to appeal. Why are you all debating the merits (or lack thereof) of the play AGAIN! Aren’t you all sick and tired of going around in circles yet?

  10. Shocked. Shocked that another SJ fan didn’t see the lack of a foul. SI and Soccer By Ives are the only third-party media that have written anything about it and they both seem to question the call.
    It was questionable.
    San Jose won. Can’t wait for the rematch.

  11. What you’re missing is that Lenhart doesn’t just grab Olave’s shorts but he grabs the far side of Olave’s shorts, instigating the contact. How exactly can Olave avoid contact with Lenhart when Lenhart is literally pulling Olave into his body as he dives to the ground?

    Fernandez got flagged for simulation that did not lead to a red card. Lenhart certainly should get flagged and fined for this disgraceful performance.

  12. CMac, while Lenhart may be many things, a physical mutant is not one of them. Olave was behind him and his shoulder hit Lenhart in the back. Lenhart’s shoulder is NOT in the middle of his back.

  13. Reading all of these comments, I can’t help but think that RSL stands for Really Sore Losers. Good grief.

    First, anyone saying that Olave was shoulder to shoulder with Lenhart needs a refresher anatomy course. He planted his shoulder in Lenhart’s back at roughly the same time Lenhart tugged Olave’s shorts. As the shorts are pretty loose, there is no way Lenhart pulled Olave into him to create the contact.

    Second,Lenhart did not want to go down to get a free kick outside the box with the RSL wall and keeper all set, he wanted the game winner. It was proven when Lenhart popped right up and took a shot. Your keeper was amazing, a one on one was a far better chance to get the winner than putting you another man down assuming the ref called it.

    Third, for those of you whining about the 6 minutes of stoppage time, get over yourselves. Your team was time wasting every chance you got after Beckerman scored the equalizer. Olave probably took over two minutes just to leave the pitch after the red card. I’m not blaming RSL for the tactic as I’d want the Earthquakes to do the same in that situation. Just pointing out there was a ton of time wasting.

    Fourth, those of you calling for Dawkins to get a red card need to open your freaking eyes and watch the replay again. Dawkins got your player with his heel, not any sort of sweeping motion or anything violent. Your player arched his back as if he’d just been shot, trying to bait the ref into giving a cheap yellow. Be grateful Dawkins got a yellow out of it, but it was nowhere near a red.

    Fifth and finally, RSL probably should have been down another player not long after Olave got the red anyway. Sabobrio, who already had a yellow, took a cheap shot and hit Ike Opara in the gut, sending him down writhing on the ground. It happened right in front of the section I was in. Should have been his second card and he’d have been out.

    Oh, and be careful what you all wish for in the next matchup. Earthquakes were without two starters injured the previous week agains NYRB. Also without our team captain who is a huge part of what we do. Also without Chavez who is a difference maker for us this year. Then add in that Lenhart and Gordon have had strained hamstrings which is why neither was in from the start.

  14. I do agree with you, the game is over, but are you kidding me about the appeal? Do you really think any team in the league is going to take MLS up on their ‘red card appeal’ cloak and dagger scheme. MLS has quite literally put up every deterrent possible to keep teams from appealing. They’ll continue to cleverly hide behind their ‘obvious’ requirement, take your $25,000, suspend your player for an additional game, and give you the reminder that you have one more ‘failed’ attempt and you lose appeals for the rest of the season and the next (and probably your first born). The only team that has deep enough pockets and enough MLS execs on their payroll to take this risk is probably LA.

  15. Are you an idiot? It was the sole reason the end goal was not a tie as we lost the league’s best center back and the added stoppage time from the call was where the two goals were scored. It was exactly the sole reason RSL lost. And six minutes of stoppage was a joke as well.

  16. Very oddly written commentary here: “Replays showed that Olave entered into a fair challenge with Lenhart for the ball until the San Jose forward positioned himself in front of Olave”. In what world has it become “unfair” for a player to position himself in front a another player in order to win a ball? This is bizarre commentary…

  17. Of course, to score in the first minute of stoppage they needed Lenhart to completely take down Schuler so that he couldn’t mark Dawkins. Luckily for SJ, the ref turned a blind eye to that one. Otherwise, it really would have been embarrassing for them.

  18. How could Olave have avoided contact, exactly? By not wearing shorts, so that Lenhart couldn’t grab them and pull him into him? Or by not having legs, so Lenhart couldn’t swing his legs into the back of Olave’s?


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