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Orlando City’s frustrations mount after another controversial call proves costly

Photo by Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports
Photo by Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports

HARRISON, N.J. — Another game, another controversial call.

Orlando City suffered a 3-2 road loss to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night after allowing them to mount a comeback, but it was the play that happened just before the rally began that most people will be talking about.

Orlando City was already up 1-0 when it looked to be on the verge of potentially doubling the lead in the 63rd minute. Cyle Larin raced in on goal on the play to try and bring down a bouncing ball and put it on frame, but was sent to the ground via a challenge from centerback Karl Ouimette before having a chance to do so.

Referee Hilario Grajeda did not call a foul on Ouimette, much less give him a red card for the denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, and the Red Bulls came down the field and began their rally two minutes later.

The Lions were convinced that a foul should have been called and a penalty kick awarded.

“Goals change games,” said Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath. “Two-nil makes it a completely different game. Are they down to 10 men? Even if you don’t score the penalty, it changes the whole complexion of the game. Big decisions change games.”

“I think it was a penalty,” Larin said after the match. “I was in front of the guy and I touched the ball and he took me down, and the keeper got up to the ball.”

Replays showed that the contact between Ouimette and Larin came outside the box, but the channel, Fox Sports 1, that broadcasted the game reported on Sunday night that Professional Referees Organization general manager Peter Walton thought the play was deserving of a penalty and an ejection.

For Orlando City, the no-call was the latest in a string of controversial decisions that have gone against the club recently. MLS has seen its match officials receive heavy criticism across the league this season because of a slew of poor calls, but Orlando City might have the biggest gripe after being at the center of two of them during the past couple of weeks.

The Lions gave up a last-gasp equalizer via a questionable penalty kick vs. the New England Revolution on April 17 after Servando Carrasco was whistled for a handball, and also did not have an offside call go in their favor when Philadelphia Union midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta scored a late winner nine days earlier.

“I had Peter Walton ring me on Monday,” Heath said. “And say I’m really sorry four (Union players) were offside for Philly’s goal, really sorry that (the ball) didn’t hit Servando Carrasco’s arm (vs. the Revolution).

Orlando City did not solely blame Grajeda’s decision for the result. Heath gave credit to the Red Bulls for the performance they put forth and said he thought they ‘deserved’ something from the game. Lions defender Brek Shea added that the Lions should not have been in a position to allow the no-call to play such a big factor.

Still, there was frustration in the locker room after the match and it was palpable.

“This is pretty bad. This is three in three weeks now,”  Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik said. “That’s just pretty unacceptable, I think. Some of them admit to it and some of them will just try to defend themselves. For me, if I let the ball roll through my legs three times, I won’t be able to show my face in the locker room.”

“I think the refs have to do a better job,” Larin said. “It costs teams games.”


    • This is my impression as well. I’m a neutral here and the amount of NYRB bias and ignorance in these comments is hilarious.

      • That’s a cool story but we learned today that Larin was offsides when that ball was played to him so that non-call should never have even happened. Looks like in this case two wrong calls do make a right.

  1. On a less controversial topic, can anyone tell me why LB Kemar Lawrence was essentially playing right mid or right CB on the play that led to the first goal? Does the system allow him to chase the ball wherever it goes, leaving his defensive half of the field entirely open? No amount of running speed can make up for that kind of positional error. I’m beginning to sour on Lawrence — can Duvall play over there?

  2. Boohoo. Orlando had no business winning that game. They created 2 or 3 chances and scored 2 goals. RBNY had 60% possession and dominated any stat you could look at.

  3. The angle I saw looked like Ouimette got a tap on the ball with his right foot as he fell and the contact was definitely outside the box.

    Cry me a river Orlando. Calls go both ways. You lost. Red Bulls controlled most of that game and if not for some unluckiness and outstanding saves from your keeper, it could have been far worse. Then I guess you’d blame the weather?

  4. I didn’t see the red card non-call from my seat, but it sounds like it’s close to unanimous. However, Orlando needs to admit that they got totally outplayed and didn’t deserve anything out of this game. There were also 2 or 3 pk shouts by RBNY that went unanswered.

    Finally, they’ve got to stop with the New England game. As a neutral (actually, I prefer Orlando to New England) , their cries are totally ridiculous. Yes, it was a bad call at the end there, but their 2 goals were scored following a dive to get the pk and a handball pass for the goal. So, I can’t believe they have the nerve to whine.

  5. Years ago,… A friend’s wife gave birth to a baby girl. My friend’s old school immigrant father remarked “it’s not a boy,…but we’ll take it.” — that’s how I feel about this Red Bull win. Orlando was without Kaka and was hard done by by the no-call on Ouimette (how did the red miss that? Ouch!),…but Red Bulls needed a win and we’ll take it!

    How bad is Ouimette? Isn’t there some kid on the junior team that can outperform this guy?
    Negatives aside,…nice game from Mike Grella! Sasha Klestjian showed up and played a little bit — the meg on his assist was nice! Now all they have to do is win four in a row to get to .500!

  6. Ouimette definitely deserved a red (and it was definitely outside the box). But: please, this didn’t cost OC the game. Ouimette later handed them an own goal, and he gave them plenty of other opportunities to score. The blown call didn’t decide the result. 3-2 to RBNY is the fairest result you could possibly assign to this game.

    • So NYRB going down to ten men and the game being 2-0 at that point… And you still don’t think that the blown call decided the game? You’re joking, right? Also, the foul continues into the box, which by definition is a penalty.


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