Monday, April 25, 2011

Common Sense - Not in MLS

"Common sense is not so common."
* Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764)

No where is the above more evident than when it comes to MLS officiating with this weekend throwing up a prime example involving Toronto FC.

In Toronto, midfielder Tony Tchani scored a sublime goal after an equally sublime pass from Julian de Guzman ending an extended scoreless streak for TFC and then proceeded to leap into the arms of the Red Patch Boys in celebration.

Problem for Tchani and TFC was that he had earlier picked up a yellow card in a probable case of wrong place, wrong time in a purses and handbags episode earlier and in the eyes of referee David Gantar this was an obvious case of excessive celebration - so second yellow and therefore red.

End celebration.

End contest as an battle between equal foes.

Cue this and countless other articles on the state of officiating in MLS.

The only person getting a yellow should be Gantar himself for this decision.

The problems with Gantar's ruling are many in my opinion:

1. The rule as written really did not require even to the letter of law require a yellow card so why give it?

2. Given the situation, he had to know that even the first yellow card was "soft" and handing a player a red and thereby changing the complexion of a game entirely. A total lack of common sense or game management.

3. Not Gantar's fault but the lack of consistency on these call's - ok almost all calls in MLS - but two weeks ago Gordon leaps into the south stands and does not receive a card but Tchani does the same and gets a yellow? Come on this is not complicated.

Even Paul Tamberino, director of the MLS' competition department agrees, "In my opinion, the referee could have used better judgment here." You think?

The actual rule says:

A player "must be cautioned" if, in the opinion of the referee, he:

-- Makes gestures which are provocative (see Charlie Davis last week but no card).
-- Climbs on to a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal being scored (no perimeter fence to climb on at BMO).
-- Removes his shirt or covers his head with his shirt (ask Vancouver's Eric Hassli about this particular section but note Tchani DID NOT remove shirt).
-- Covers his head or face with a mask or other similar item. (Again Tchani did neither of these).

The rule also says: "Leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is not a cautionable offence in itself but it is essential that players return to the field of play as soon as possible."

Tchani took about 15 seconds to back into position and get ready for the ensuing kick-off and referee Gantar then took about a minute to administer the second card. If you have to take that long to make the decision it's probably wrong when it comes to officiating in my opinion.

The rule itself, while some might find unnecessary, does not really restrict celebration so as long as common sense prevails.

Unfortunately common sense is not so common especially in MLS officiating.

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