The Professional Referee Organization released a statement Monday acknowledging a missed penalty kick call in the 90th minute of Real Salt Lake’s dramatic 1-0 win at Sporting Kansas City. The last-minute win earned RSL a playoff spot and cost SKC a possible chance at the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Minutes before Damir Kreilach’s 95th-minute winner to send RSL to the playoffs, Justen Glad knocked the ball away from an onrushing Roger Espinoza with his arm leaving SKC manager Peter Vermes and the home fans frustrated.
PRO’s statement issued Monday reads: “In the 90th minute, a handball offense occurred inside Real Salt Lake’s penalty area; however, the referee did not award a penalty kick in real-time, allowing play to continue.”
The PRO statement specified that the Video Assistant Referee in the game, Younes Marrakchi, did not find a clear and obvious error and did not recommend a video review to the center referee, Ted Unkel.
The officials answered questions from an MLS pool reporter after the match. Their answers stated that the Video Assistant Referee did not find a definitive angle showing a handball and that a video review was not recommended.
While RSL needed the win to take a playoff spot, Sporting KC also had much at stake. Sporting KC could have won the Western Conference top seed if it won the match, regardless of Colorado’s 5-2 victory over LAFC. In addition, RSL’s victory eliminated the L.A. Galaxy from playoff contention after their 3-3 draw with Minnesota United.
Vermes opened his postmatch press conference on Sunday with an impassioned rant on the missed call.
“What is incredibly disappointing, what is a stab to the heart of every single person that is associated to our club and all the clubs that are competing because this result affects them as well – Salt Lake gets in, LA gets knocked out,” Vermes said. “LA is now sitting on the outside because of a call, as well. That is incredibly, incredibly unprofessional. The fact that you have VAR. The fact that you have replays. The fact that you sit upstairs and you look at replays and you have all the time in the world to make that decision.
“The ball didn’t even go out of bounds,” Vermes said. “He could have blown the whistle at any time. VAR not coming back and talking about a clear and obvious mistake that that’s not a handball… If that is the case, if that’s what they believe – and I am never one to ask for anybody’s job or anything – then I would say that all of those guys are not able to referee, to look at VAR, to do whatever at this level. It has impacted everything. It is the black mark on this league. It is an example of why we lose so many people to watch this game year in and year out, game in and game out, because we do not get it right.”