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Caleb Porter slams CONCACAF, CCL officiating after heartbreaking draw with Monterrey


There was plenty of drama on display in the Columbus Crew’s CONCACAF Champions League matchup with Monterrey on Wednesday night, and head coach Caleb Porter was left enraged by several of the events that led up to his team having to settle for a 2-2 draw.

The game itself was chaotic and emotional. Columbus pulled ahead in the 87th minute but ultimately let a stoppage-time equalizer in. Now, the team will need to make up for two away goals in the second leg, which is no easy task.

In Porter’s mind, Wednesday’s result would probably be digestible if the Crew hadn’t been on the disappointing end of some major officiating decisions.

Porter made his position clear in a scathing rant during his postgame press conference.

“I know everybody hates it when coaches talk about officials, but it’s a joke.” He said. “It’s a joke.”

Columbus’ long night began with conceding a goal in the ninth minute and it came before the game any rhythm to it. Then, star midfielder Lucas Zelarayán was issued a yellow card in the 12th minute on a fairly innocuous play, which rules him out of the second leg in Mexico.

“How Lucas Zelarayán gets a yellow card, no idea,” Porter said. “They had six, seven fouls worse than a foul he had, and no card. And he gets a yellow card. Somebody explain that to me,”

The second example Porter cited was a 35th-minute collision between striker Gyasi Zardes and Monterrey goalkeeper Luis Cárdenas. Zardes came into the box on the break, and there was some hard contact that could have resulted in a penalty, had it been reviewed.

“Somebody explain to me how Gyasi’s play, where he gets cleaned out by the keeper is not a penalty kick, and not even reviewed..”

A play that was reviewed went against the Crew late in the game is also up for debate.

Bradley Wright-Phillips looked to have scored a game-winning goal in the 73rd minute after coming on in substitution, but it was waved off after VAR determined that Josh Williams was offside in the assist.

“How is that clear and obvious overturned offsides?,” Porter asked. “I watched it. Every angle. I paused it, I stopped it. I always try to be objective in these moments. It’s not off. How do they overturn that call?”

Coming into the game, Porter was not thrilled with the selection of the video assistant referee to begin with.

“It’s tainted by a VAR last-minute decision thrown out there, not organized clearly, you have a guy in the booth that’s never worked with the officiating crew. I knew right when they said that it was going to be thrown together last minute, it was going to be a disaster. How can they do that?” Porter said. “Shame on CONCACAF for that. That is absolutely ridiculous.”

On a normal day, the less you talk about officiating is usually commensurate with the fairness of a game. Objectively, Wednesday’s game could have been managed better and the Crew’s CCL dreams could be a casualty of it.

“I’ve watched this league for years and years and years, and everybody talks about how no American team has beaten a Liga MX team to win the tournament. Blah, blah, blah, why don’t they get the freaking officiating sorted out?

“You’ve got good teams competing in a tournament,” Porter said. “Why don’t they get the officiating sorted out? It’s a joke.”


  1. CONCACAF Refs will never change but if the players were better at holding possession, esp at the end of the game or defending then the issue of the ref is moot…

  2. Concacaf champions league is a regional tournament were teams from north and Central America compete, a Mexican team wins and the Americans bitch about the officiating

  3. same as it ever was, corrupt. this is what must be overcome to do it in our region. right on. if anyone is surprised, shame on you

    • Portland probably didn’t deserve their penalty since they clearly tripped the defender who ended up falling on the ball and being called for handball so bad calls can go both ways. I’m a Crew fan and Williams was clearly offside when he headed it to BWP, I didn’t see the Zardes penalty shout but if Colombus had defended better they would be talking about a 2-0 victory not the ref.

      • well we disagree, and it sure is easy to say ‘if they’d do this and do that’ while getting wanked on by the refs, which is tradition in our region. all teams miss assignments and concede goals, but it’s the obvious influence the refs in key moments, over and over and over again that tell the story to any observer with eyes. to pretend that concacaf officiating is a level playing field is absurd

    • Concacaf referees are typically poor I’m just saying Porter was off on the PK and the disallowed goal. His team wasn’t ready for the pressure of the first 15 minutes or last 5 minutes, that’s on him as the manager not the ref. Crew never get calls in MLS either. Two years ago Ted Uncle (the ref) fouled a DC United player Trapp picked up the ball and fed it forward it led to a goal. Uncle who knows he kicked the DCU player because his legs have nerve endings goes to the video that clearly shows Trapp makes no contact and confirms it was he the ref that tackled the player trying to dodge the ball. He rules Trapp committed the foul and takes away the goal. Now today the ball would be dead when Uncle touched it but at the time VAR and Uncle coordinated to try to cover for Uncle’s clumsiness, which was ridiculous because they saw it on tape. Then he released a post game statement doubling down that Trapp had kicked the player, at least PRO benched him for a couple weeks.

    • Still recalling Peter Pendergrast and coach Berhalter’s shoulder ball the good old Peter call the handball to give Costa Rica a win at Saprissa is WCQ July 2000. Doesn’t surprise me Concacaf referees never disappoint they’re consistently horrible. As well Concacaf is run by bush league amateurs hopefully the current crew aren’t thieves.

  4. It’s always been this way, horrible officiating in concacaf. Same in away WC qualifiers. I have never understood why we just sit back and take it. Not a huge Porter fan, but good on him for coming out and saying it. This problem must get fixed if the rest of the world is ever going to take our region seriously. And can you imagine what these goons are going to do to Pulisic in qualifying? I would almost rather not take him to away matches.

    • When it comes to the sport in the region there is a significant history or corruption. That isn’t going away so let’s ignore it for the sake of the argument that I am about to lay out. If you are an aspiring official in the concacaf region where are you supposed to get experience to refine your craft? The only decent leagues are in Mexico and the US. I don’t think there is any mechanism for officials from smaller countries to officiate in Mexico or US. Maybe this is something that Concacaf should explore. Hell Maybe MLS should recruit officials from the region to help improve the overall officiating

    • Porter is honest and can blunt, which rubs a lot of folks wrong. Dude gets results and folks love to play for him. I remember in an interview after a match the reporter asked him why he did not make a sub? Porters reply basically was my eleven were the best I have and offered the best chance to win.

  5. I remember a CONCACAF Champions Cup match between Columbus and Santos where Columbus scored from a player who had to get a new jersey and was waved back into the game by a linesman, but then the goal he scored didn’t count because his jersey didn’t have a number.

    LOL CONCACAF. Some of the calls are so bad and obvious that some people are being paid behind the scenes. San Jose too a few years ago scored against Toluca but didn’t count. Typical CONCACAF BS.


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