Top Stories

Bradley blasts referee following controversial disallowed goal


Photo by Mike Dinovo/USA Today Sports


After seeing his team miss out on a crucial victory due to a controversial referee decision, Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley let loose.

The midfielder blasted the state of refereeing in MLS, insisting that Saturday’s official David Gantar, a Canadian referee assigned by the Canadian Soccer Association as opposed to PRO, is “just not good enough” to referee in the league.

“They continue to assign Canadian referees with Canadian teams playing against American teams,” Bradley said. “It makes no sense how you can continue to assign Canadian referees when an American team is playing against a Canadian team. It’s obvious that these guys are going to make a conscious effort to show they’re not biased one way or the other.

“It’s not the first time we’ve had (Gantar) this year,” Bradley contined. “What can you say? He’s just not good enough. It’s just unfortunate because we’re fighting for our lives and when you see how much every guy in here puts into it and the performance over the course of 90 minutes, to have two points taken from you at the end of the game, it’s just not good enough.”

Bradley went on to continue with the message that it is the league’s responsibility to clean up the state of refereeing in the current game.

“The league can make all the excuses all they want,” Bradley said. “They can say they are working with PRO and bringing (PRO General Manager and former Premier League referee) Peter Walton in and all this stuff, but at the end of the day it’s not even close to being good enough. Consistently they put referees out there who are in over their head. It’s a shame because they ruin games and totally decide the outcome of the game.”

Video of Bradley’s discussion of refereeing can be seen after the jump:


What do you think of Bradley’s rant? How do you feel about the state of MLS refereeing? What can the league due to improve?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Bad players. Bad games. Bad teams. Bad referees
    This clown should sit down and watch a couple of his latest games and then revisit the referee situation.
    The way he whines one would think he’s taking the league by storm.
    He should shut up before people start comparing his skills with his salary.

    • I’ve been saying for some time now that he has pretty much lost what ever he had. This goes back to a sub par WC and after. Anytime I’ve seen him play I think Toronto must be kicking themselves over what they pay for what they get

      Im sure though JK will call him in while ignoring others more deserving

  2. Gus Johnson will not go on as a soccer announcer now.

    I bring this up, because every time, every time there is an American in soccer, he is ripped on and percieved inferior.
    US announcers, analysts like Taylor Twellman, US soccer players, of course the reffing, oh Lord the reffing, the leagues as a whole, coaching, development coaching, even trainers.

    They are all better Europe.

    Oh yeah the fans, almost forgot about us, I watch a Euro game and I see a bunch of suits sitting down as quiet as a library, more often than not, but we need to hope we can get the Euro atmosphere someday.

    The ref hating is just part of it. I don’t have a problem with Bradley yelling, he wants to win and that is the way he should be. I do have a problem with the inferiority complex. It is non-stop and needs to stop.

    • I agree, bad calls happen in every league in the world. Say you don’t agree with the call. However don’t attack the league every time a call doesn’t go your way. MLS is just the easy target.

    • Yes, the “American soccer sucks crowd” is stupid. But the knee-jerk “Oh yeah? European soccer sucks more.” crowd is the other side of the same stupid coin.

      Soccer bashing is dumb, whether from within or outside soccer fans.

    • I get your point, but your equivalency argument goes a bit far. Gus Johnson was not a va announcer because he is American, but because he (admittedly) really didn’t know how to do it. And yes, refs make mistakes everywhere, but does that mean they’re all the same? People may presume sometimes that Euro means better, but aren’t you presuming that Europe, MLS, and pretty much any league is the same!

  3. I love all the people that constantly criticize refs, but are against replay. Refs haven’t gotten worse over the years…tv coverage has gotten better. 10 years ago, if there was a controversial play, you might get a blurry replay or two.
    Now, every game has a dozen HD cameras recording every move, and we get to see every one of them, while the ref has one chance in real time.
    Either get behind reform, or accept that soccer refereeing is fundamentally flawed, and stop whining every time to disagree with a call.

  4. I have only seen MB90 in a few MLS games but it does not seem he has had the impact some would expect. Would a more tuned in fan care to comment on his success. Cant recall his last assist or goal.

  5. “It makes no sense how you can continue to assign Canadian referees when an American team is playing against a Canadian team. It’s obvious that these guys are going to make a conscious effort to show they’re not biased one way or the other.”


    I think the obvius concern is that a Canadian referee would have a bias in favor of the Canadian team. So, if you have an American referee in a game between a US-based MLS team and a Canada-based MLS team, is it obvious that the American referee is going to make a conscious effort to show they’re not biased one way or the other, thus favoring the Canada-based team?

    What BS.

    • I think what MB was getting at was that since the referee is Canadian, and TFC were playing against an American team, that the referee went out of his way to show he was not being biased, and thus disallowed the goal in order to give off that image.

      Can’t say I agree with his logic. Dude was just really frustrated at missing out on two crucial points. You all would feel the same way if you were in good shape just weeks ago and are now free-falling out of a playoff spot.

      • Because an American ref could be trusted, where a Canadian could not?

        A shockingly stupid comment from someone I thought was fairly intelligent. Also a very insulting comment to his organization and fan base. He needs to apologize.

      • Exactly dude. Like I said, I can’t agree with his logic… for that very simple observation.

        But I don’t know if I would go to those lengths, saying he “needs” to apologize. It’s not that serious.

        Play on.

    • i think what he meant to ask is why MLS is putting a ref into a situation where his bias could come into question and so the ref over compensates. it’s the same logic as to why no one wants to see a Mexican or an American ref in a USA v. Mexico game.

      • Which bias? The bias to favor the country where one is from or this newly-minted reverse/overcompensation-bias?

        Is MB suggesting that MLS bring in refs from outside of US or Canada for a club match like this? As you know, these aren’t national teams. If MB is saying the ref should be American for these games, that’s a very bizarre comment.

      • look, im not agreeing or disagreeing with him, just pointing out the logic used in his statement. to me, he was saying a ref from the USA or Canada should not be used in a game which features a team from the USA against a team from Canada.

        i know i’ve heard fans complain when Mexican refs officiate games between a Liga MX team and an MLS team. no idea if that still happens or not, but aren’t those people using the same logic?

      • You can’t compare the two scenarios though. The only time a Mexican club and an American club would face each other is in a CONCACAF sanctioned competition. In that case, a CONCACAF referee is assigned. I would be surprised if it was an American or Mexican referee but I’m sure it has happened as they are CONCACAF referees (although it really shouldn’t happen).

        In this scenario, it’s an intraleague match. The referees used for MLS are either certified with the CSA or USSF, so the referees are going to be either American or Canadian. Obviously, MB90 overlooked that fact.

        Everyone, the guy was just pissed.

      • you spent time typing this out for no reason. already said i didn’t realize PRO was just USA/Canadian refs. for some reason i assumed it was all of CONCACAF, which was wrong.

        deep breaths.

      • who said it doesn’t apply to them too? the point, the way i took it, was all-encompassing while his example was specific (given that was the game in question).

        in other words, i took it as him saying the ref in those games should never be Canadian or American. not saying if i agree/disagree with the logic, but just throwing out there how it came across to me and then used the USA v. Mexico scenario as an example of the same logic.

      • If he is suggesting that the refs be neither American or Canadian, and to be clear he doesn’t say this, then he needs to show some kind of awareness of the practicality of this. Can it be done? I don’t know, but it seems rather impractical given the number of games between American and Canadian teams.

      • he most certainly implies it by questioning the fact that a Canadian ref was in charge of a game between a Canadian team and another opponent. he is questioning the ref’s ability to be unbiased yet not overcompensate. that is literally his main point…

        as for if it can be done or not…of course it can. PRO has enough refs to avoid this type of thing. on any given weekend there can only be three games, maximum, that involve a US v Canadian teams. i can come up with a few combos just looking at the ref assignments:

        in the end, i agree it’s a bit whiny on his part.

      • i take that last point back, i overlooked the fact that all PRO refs are US or Canadian based…not CONCACAF.

        well, sorry Bradley, i tried.

      • Yes, that’s what he is saying, but it does not make sense. Most leagues in the world use refs from the country where the league is based. MLS is different from most leagues, because it includes teams from 2 countries (sort of like Monaco playing in the French league). Accordingly, they would pick either an American or a Canadian ref. International games are different, because they involve national teams with the refs assigned either by FIFA or by confederations. And by the way, the last game between PSG and Monaco was officiated by a Frenchman.

      • Maybe we could use basketball refs for these games? They probably wouldn’t care who wins. Seriously though, I believe that lack of competence is a greater issue than lack of integrity. This ref probably doesn’t care who wins either way.

      • ..and if you get the third one correct, you get a free penalty kick of your choosing. Offer only valid until 12/31/14 at participating locations.

      • In addition to the red and yellow cards, time for refs to carry a “Frequent Challenges” card for each team. Each time the team challenges, the ref stamps that team’s Frequent Challenges card. Fill up the card with 10 stamps, next challenge is free.

      • And if you score the penalty kick, everyone gets a free coffee and donut at Tim Horton’s.

        (Tim Horton’s if you are in Canada, Dunkin Donuts if you are in the US).

      • Will this offer be available to current foulers, or just those new fouling subscribers? I hate it when newbies get a deal, but those of us that have been fouling for years aren’t eligible.

    • Fouls in soccer are too subjective for this. In football it works because everything is so precisely defined, calls are usually black and white. Exceptions to this, such as pass interference, are not able to be challenged. Most calls in soccer are rather subjective, like pass interference.

    • What would that solve ??!?!

      I still say foul and you obviously still think it wasn’t a foul.
      Clyde Frog is correct, this is pass interference, which is NOT challange-able.

      • Though “NEP Coach” would like to make PI and everything else challengeable with the existing 2 or 3 flags. It was tabled at the last rules meeting.

  6. what i don’t get is if there are ‘referees out there who are in over their head’ why are they trying to make the most controversial calls possible.

    the usual complaint about MLS refs is that they don’t carry the game well or allow too much physical play into the game… this is understandable because a ref new to this level, or just not very good at this level, shouldn’t be expected to be really great at doing this. They might miss a call or not pick the most wise time to intervene.

    Here you have a case of a ref who is allegedly under qualified for this position and has gone above and beyond to make a very very controversial call to disallow a game winning goal!?! Even if he thought he saw something there you would think that a lesser qualified ref would err on the conservative side when it comes to high pressure judgement calls like that.. i just don’t get that.

    my point is you better have a real good reason to call back a game deciding goal. sure bradley will be finded or suspended and this will probably cost TFC the playoffs but he is doing the right thing here addressing this issue.

  7. It looks like a foul. The defender is between G and the goalie, when G sticks his legs through the defender’s legs to get the ball and in the process rams into the back of the defender’s legs.

    That is a foul.

    • At the very least its a difficult, call to make. When you put your hand on a player in possession and they go down, more often then not, it’s going to be called a foul.

    • Agreed it is a foul. He grabs the guy once or twice and then tackles him from behind. IF that was a defender on an attacker, EVERYONE would be up in arms is a PK wasn’t awarded.

    • But the grabbing of the shoulder was a clear foul. Gilberto threw the defender off balance by grabbing him and then got to the ball from behind. If he makes that play without the grabbing its a goal.

  8. The players and coaches in every league in the world complain about the level of officiating on a weekly basis. There is no magical place where everyone is happy with the level of officiating. I’m tired of hearing soccer professionals complain about it. It is what it is. You’re a pro you should know how it works by now.

    • “The players and coaches in every league in the world complain about the level of officiating on a weekly basis”

      That should tell you that they do it because they feel it does some good. Perhaps Mikey is doing it because, as probably the biggest salary earner on the team, he can best take the likely fine. You can almost always follow the money with pros.

      And if it includes a few games suspension, he’s not playing well and probably needs the rest.

      This is no big deal.

  9. Bradley knows he can’t blast his team mates because he’s making 20 times the rest of them, so he’s going after the refs at every chance he can. Not to say the refs shouldn’t be better but lets be honest. He could have just easily said “he’s just not good enough, not even close” about at least half the guys on the field beside him.

  10. Doesn’t look like Bradley was offering any suggestions about how to improve the officiating. If he has any ideas, I’m sure the league would listen. Until then, he has to expect that MLS is a CONCACAF league that has CONCACAF level refs.

    • CONCACAF level? What does that even mean?

      I don’t know how that makes any sense, as if the better officiating was, for some arbitrary reason, in Europe. What standards do you use to measure this? Referees work where they live. I live in the U.S. (as does Gantar and Geiger and Salazar, etc) so I have to work here, where I’m registered/certified. European refs live there so they work there.

      That’s pretty much all that separates the referees here from those in Europe. Anyone who thinks the better referees “MUST” be from Europe has no idea what he or she is talking about.

      You can make that case about players, sure. Players are allowed to cross federation boundaries by simply putting pen to paper. The money is in Europe so the best players go there. Fine, I’ll concede that. However, that’s not the case with referees.

      • I see what you’re saying but I think the best referees, in any sport, are going to be found in places where the games are higher profile, the pressure is higher and there’s a longer history of training referees for such matches. (Clearly that doesn’t mean just anywhere in Europe.)

      • I’m not sure it is the best way to judge the quality of refereeing, but look at who is in charge of the knockout stages of the World Cup. Allegedly, the best crews will be in charge of the later stages. I know it isn’t the best judge, but it is better than nothing.

        Needless to say, the US & Canada haven’t had great success in even getting a CR into the tournament, let alone the knockout stages. To me, that says a lot about the quality we are dealing with.

        To those who say we had Geiger this year, did you see his 1st game back? The DisCo stepped in to suspend Olave after Geiger missed him grabbing an opponent’s junk.

      • So we have all these great refs and so few make the WC. People don’t work where they live when they are specialist in their field. They work where they get paid like specialist. If your argument is that our refs are as good as those in Europe, I direct you to our WC ref that stated that they call less fouls in the MLS to make the game more interesting. How many other organizations do this? How do you ref consistently when you have to decide if the foul was a foul or just interesting. Your argument smacks of homerism. Some of our refs are poor, many just adequate, but all have been directed to let stuff go. Get over it.

      • Specialist in their field? Dude, it’s refereeing. It’s not like other professions. Are you a referee? No. So you wouldn’t understand the administrative side of refereeing. “Wow. Geiger has really stepped it up! He should challenge himself! I say he makes the jump to Europe”. No, it doesn’t work like that. You think Europeans don’t complain about refs? Referees everywhere are seen as being incompetent this, unfit that. It comes with the territory! But to just arbitrarily say that Europeans are better referees based on I don’t know what, it’s just foolish. It just goes to show how big the Euro inferiority complex is in you. Even Howard Webb got crap for calling games “in ManU’s favor”.

        Nobody is ever happy with what they have. But just understand one simple fact: you ref where you live. It’s that simple. If Geiger wanted to ref in Europe, he would have to move to Europe and get certified there. If Stoica wanted to ref in the Mexican league, he would have to move to Mexico and become certified there. If Martin Atkinson wanted to ref in MLS, he would have to move here and get certified here.

        Referees don’t get recruited to other national leagues just because they’re “better”. That doesn’t exist.

    • I don’t know how that makes any sense, as if the better officiating was in Europe. What standards do you use to measure this? Referees work where they live. I live in the U.S. (as does Gantar and Geiger and Salazar, etc) so I have to work here, where I’m registered/certified. European refs live there so they work there.

      That’s pretty much all that separates the referees here from those in Europe. Anyone who thinks the better referees “MUST” be from Europe has no idea what he or she is talking about.

      You can make that case about players, sure. Players are allowed to cross federation boundaries by simply putting pen to paper. That’s not the case with referees.

      • Your joking right? A referee who refs EPL, La Liga, Bundeliga, Serie A and/or Champions League and Europa League and/or European qualification week in, week out will see far better players and competitions than anything a referee will see in the USA.

      • Just like the players in those leagues I mentioned don’t make any mistakes either. Actually, they are so good they don’t need to foul. 😉

  11. Lets see… Bradley cuts loose, JJ complains about being hacked to death and had to leave the game…. against a Canadian team.

    The league should start rating refs and firing ones with consistent performance problems. People pay to see the marquee players play, not to see some punk take them out of the game by kicking the crap out of their legs when nobody is watching

      • I’d like to see the PRO ratings made public. I know no other league or sport does this, but it would give fans a, hopefully, non-biased way to see how PRO rates a crew v. their own assessment. Maybe it would cut down on fan criticism and give us all an insight into the concerns fans/players have and they are being addressed.

      • It would increase fan criticism, I’m quite certain of that. Fans would complain about every out of bounds call that wasn’t rated the way they see it.

    • What’s the truth? That one ref (with minimum assistance) can’t compete with a dozen HD, slow motion replays?
      The refs, both in MLS and in the wold as a whole, do a pretty good job with the tools that they have.

      • Couldn’t disagree more. I think here in MLS we’ve only got one or two passable referees, the majority of them really seem clueless sometimes. Obviously, any ref is bound to make mistakes here and there, but some of the calls made in MLS completely baffle the mind. I agree with Bradley here, and I agree with Ben Olsen about Geiger’s call last week. The state of officiating in MLS is pretty awful, and is something that PRO desperately need to figure out how to improve, or something will need to be changed without them.

        Also, I agree entirely with Bradley’s point about Canadian refs calling USA v CAN games, it’s very simple to understand that they would want (and are probably trained) to show as little bias as possible, and probably set out to prove it sometimes (Michael’s point).

      • Ok this went of the rails a bit for me in the second part… are you saying they are inadequately trained? I would probably agree here… the standard in MLS appears to be lower than the world standard for top class soccer. The players and coaches are also a bit like this right now. Give it a few years more… it’s all you can do.

        But training these guys (who you haven’t trained to be competent referees) to make marketable decisions before you have trained them to make accurate decisions seems way over the top. For starters, these guys are not paid such enormous sums of money that you can keep them quiet. If you fire any of them, and they know anything that might amount knowledge of this sort of thing, they would happily sell MLS out for a couple grand , or less. Leave that nonsense to the NBA.

Leave a Comment