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Peter Vermes livid with officiating in Sporting KC loss to Seattle

Photo by Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports
Photo by Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports

SEATTLE– After Thursday night’s tumultuous match at CenturyLink Field, the scoreboard said the Seattle Sounders topped Sporting Kansas City 1-0 in the knockout round of the 2016 MLS playoffs.

Peter Vermes wasn’t so sure.

In his postgame comments, the Sporting KC head coach cited a series of calls and non-calls that he believed cost his team a chance to play FC Dallas in the conference semifinal. He ultimately requested an apology from both MLS and the Professional Referee Organization, the group responsible for managing league officiating.

“I will tell you,” Vermes said, “in my opinion, and for our organization, I think that PRO and Major League Soccer owe our club an absolute apology because this game was taken away from us today.”

Vermes’ anger stemmed from his belief that Seattle’s lone goal should have been called back for offside; that his team had a goal of its own wrongly called back; and that the Sounders should have played with 10 men for the final 23 minutes.

“Unfortunately,” Vermes said, “the game was one in which we scored and our guy was onside, they scored and their guy was offside. Unfortunately (Osvaldo) Alonso for them should’ve been thrown out of the game, which would’ve changed the game. There were three plays within the game that would’ve completely changed the match.”

Vermes certainly had cause to gripe about the game-winning goal, a Nelson Valdez header off a whipped-in cross from Joevin Jones. While Valdez wasn’t yards behind the back line, replays showed he had a half-step on Sporting’s last defender.

“Like I said, they scored their goal on an offsides play, referee misses it, and it changes the outcome of the game,” Vermes said.

Evidence to fully support the rest of Vermes’ fury is a little harder to find.

The first incident to draw his ire came seven minutes into the second half. Matt Besler appeared to give Sporting KC a 1-0 lead with a powerful header off a Benny Feilhaber free kick, but was ruled offside. Replays showed Besler was indeed likely offside, if by the slimmest of margins.

Vermes was also furious referee Ismail Elfath didn’t eject Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso for a 67th-minute tackle on Feilhaber. Alonso — already carrying a yellow card for a rugged and tardy first-half challenge on Roger Espinoza — slid with his right leg extended as Feilhaber began to scoot down the left touchline on the counter. Feilhaber tumbled to the FieldTurf as the ball rolled out of bounds.

“I can’t even understand how you don’t give Alonso the second yellow card,” Vermes said, “which puts him out of the game.”

At full speed and to the naked eye it certainly seemed a reckless challenge worthy of a second yellow, but replays showed Alonso did in fact get to the ball, and that Feilhaber probably initiated contact by dragging his trailing foot across Alonso’s leg.

Elfath conferred with fourth official Ricardo Salazar before deciding not to award a foul on the play. For his part, Vermes said he didn’t care where the call came from, but that even if Alonso got the ball it was still a tactical foul.

“You can call it whatever you want,” he said. “It’s a tackle. You can call it from the side, you can call it from behind. It’s a tactical foul. I don’t really care (where the call comes from), but it’s easily deserving of a second yellow in the open field like that.”

Feilhaber, who picked up a yellow card of his own for dissent after taking umbrage with the lack of a red card, seemed to have his tongue planted firmly in cheek when asked about the play.

“No, I was wrong,” he said. “It was obviously a correct call. You know, they got the throw-in, so obviously Alonso kicked it right off me. (It was) a clean tackle, obviously, and I was definitely wrong in asking for a yellow card on that play.”


  1. Feilhaber is a complete disgrace.

    The dude is a professional and a 31 year old man. He cries like small child after everything (Vermes too) and nobody on the pitch even comes close to his level of petulance.

    Feilhaber could have easily, easily gotten two yellows for persistent infringement and dissent. He committed a number of fouls and got in the referees face constantly. The dude is a straight up embarrassment

    “But he’s just a competitor HTM” – yea so are the other 21 dudes on the pitch but you don’t see anywhere near that level of disgraceful conduct.

    Feilhaber and Vermes set horrible examples for how everyone else should treat officials too.

    • This is exactly why he has not played with the USMNT of late. Despite really good form, he is unwanted on the international side. Do you remember early in JK”s tenure, Benny was fouled in a game with a CONCACAF side, I don’t remember which, he laid on the ground in the box throwing a very similar fit. He didn’t last much longer in the game, and I don’t know if he has been back in a game since. Maybe he has attended one camp since.

      Time to grow up, but he never will. It will always be someone else’s fault. Vermes is no better. To just ignore the fouls Benny committed time and again, and the long leash he received costs him any credibility. Benny flopped as well. The tackle was very aggressive, but the replay is clear, very little contact, and probably none with out Feilhaber dragging his leg.

      Don’t let the door hit you on the way out KC.

      • Totally agree. Last night kind of sums up Benny Feilhaber, in my opinion. Sparkles some skill – sometimes – but it’s largely negated by his petulant attitude and is less than relentless at tracking back. Even when we were really hurting for any kind of #10 who could pull the strings Klinsmann dropped Feilhaber and kept him dropped…and I think that was a pretty good team-building example, too, and at least for the USMNT, addition by subtraction. You could probably control Benny better, as Vermes largely has, when he’s playing for a paycheck but a national team is purely a pride/personal-brand thing and that’s where a narcissistic diva tends to come up especially short. But all of a sudden we’re hearing about Feilhaber garnering interest from Israel or back overseas and how he’s probably not in SKC’s plans going forward…and hey, there’s the old Benny back, front and center.

        Frustrating, and a shame, because he did have the skill to help the USMNT, but you can see why he didn’t, too. He also didn’t look, to my eyes, quite as sharp as he was a year or so ago, when he was dangerous for SKC seemingly every time he got on the ball.

      • I think it the same problem we see with Kljestan, Nagbe and even Bedoya to a degree. While all are talented there roles aren’t all that well defined at there club. With limited time in a national team you kind of need more guys like Beckerman that just knows his job inside and out.

  2. Excluding the calls on the yellows, it should have ended up 0-0 in regulation time (or at least till the 85 minute).

    If Besler was offside, so was Valdez.

    KC got robbed on the non-offside call on the goal.

    • Besler was standing offside and the Seattle defender marking another player almost or did play him onside. Besler doesn’t really move so to the AR he thinks he’s offside when it was very close. You can understand why the AR makes a mistake. However, Valdez is a pretty clear just missed timed run the AR shouldn’t miss that one its the textbook situation. Perhaps he was caught up in the moment or he had dinner reservations and didn’t want extra time.

  3. Fielhaber acted like a complete child. ITs no wonder this guy can’t sniff the USMNT. I’ve never seen someone throw such a fit for not getting a call on their flop.

    • Agree – that’s the kind of behaviour that gives our sport a bad name – lying on the ground acting hurt in the hope that the ref brings out the red card on the defender

  4. Weird Vermes didn’t bring up the non-foul called on Jordan Morris break away. Or the repeating of a repeating of the last chance foul before KC gets a second yellow. Almost like Vermes, who I love, is extremely biased to KC.

    All of Seattle is thinking oh no, it is Salazar that will make the call on the Ozzie tackle, because being an extremely biased fan base, they thought he would rule against us. Nope. Ok, good, he got THAT one right, lol.

    Shame it had to be wrong on the game winner, everyone would rather that not be the case, I will give him that.

    Calls go both ways, quit whining.

  5. Please, if KC cannot get past a crappy Sounders team easily, they should not complain. KC had so many chances and looked like the better team. If you cannot put the ball in the back of the net – quit whining. Also, don’t forget KC won a crown because they got all the calls a few years ago. Seattle only gets to move on to an a- – whooping when they play Dallas!


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