|photo by Matt Kremkau
by Daniel Feuerstein
This brand-new season is different from how the New York Red Bulls wanted to start. One win in ten games is not a good thing but besides the problems with the tactics, there is a problem with the referees and with VAR. I don't know what the Red Bulls did or said to the officials of PRO, but somehow they are ignoring the type of fouls that should've been reviewed or at first look been shown a straight red card.
We have seen Omir Fernandez take a studs-up challenge to his lower leg, Cameron Harper struck in the head with a forceful elbow, and Dylan Nealis taking a two-footed challenge into his chest or stomach and either it ends up being a yellow or a noncall. These types of officiating have been infuriating and embarrassing to the profession.
On March 25th down in Charlotte, North Carolina We saw two moments where the Red Bulls should've been either up a man or two if both fouls were given a straight red card. Brandt Bronico stabbed his studs into the left leg of Omir Fernandez, and the referee never carded him for the offense. Then in the second half, Cameron Harper was challenging for a ball in the air, at the same time receiving an elbow that was swung right at his head and the Charlotte FC player only got a booking.
The worst of those two challenges was that VAR (Video Assistant Referee) did a check to see if both plays warranted a red card and to assist the main referee to pull it out of his back pocket. Sadly both checks were complete and nothing was done to change those outcomes in the Red Bulls favor. We also know what happened in the home match against the San Jose Earthquakes, but not the Dante Vanzeir situation, that moment came after Judson's poor challenge on Dylan Nealis.
Judson delivered a two-footed flying tackle and drove his studs into the chest area of Dylan Nealis and it only warranted a yellow card. Dylan's brother Sean who is the Captain of the club protested very angrily and wanted a red card for that type of challenge, sadly it didn't come and we will never know if VAR did a check to change the color of the card.
But this latest match at the Chicago Fire truly took the cake. Referee Chris Penso blew his whistle for a foul in the 38th minute as Omir Fernandez was attacking with the ball and toward the Fire's area. Rafael Czichos who was already on a yellow card issued in the 4th minute took down Fernandez. Sadly it would be Fernandez booked for simulation. Looking at the replay Czichos did remove his left leg, but there was still enough contact for Omir to get fouled and Czichos should've been given his second yellow card and red.
I don't understand how easy and simple these types of fouls are not being punished for what they should be, a second caution then red, or a straight red card to be issued by the men in the middle of the pitch. Are the Red Bulls being targeted intentionally? Or is it that PRO is not training referees better to follow the laws of the game.
Regardless of how the season has started, either good or bad, these officials are not doing their job, Last week's match in Montreal it took a second yellow card to be issued due to a Montreal player kicking the ball away for delay of game and that was a weak call. It's the right call, but after what happened in those three of the four games where a red card was supposed to be issued, it's still a terrible situation these opponents weren't punished properly.
When you have former referee Christina Unkle going on reviewing referee decisions and she is lambasting her colleagues thru the MLS Social Media pages, you know they screwed up royally and it's up to Mark Geiger to fix these problems, as quickly as possible. Because right now it feels like the Red Bulls are intentionally getting targeted for no reason.
Yes, they aren't having a good start to the season, but they don't need the referee's help to create insult to injury while not securing the full three points. They can do that all by themselves.