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Red Bulls Are Not Fluid and More Referee Mistakes

photo by Matt Kremkau

by Daniel Feuerstein

It's happened again. 

Time and time again this Red Bulls team has continued to find a way to drop a result, or they get the wrong side of calls that should be in their favor. But we all know one thing: there is a big problem and somehow they need to find a way to fix this problem and do it quickly. First, we look at the play on the field.

You can definitely see that there is a disconnect on the field. After the first 20 minutes of the match, the Red Bulls who begin with fire and brimstone, go into a lull and get themselves into trouble. Their passing isn't crisp enough, they are overcomplicating matters, no communication from the midfield to the strikers, or the attackers bring the ball up the pitch.

How many times has Corey Burke tried to time his run for a solid pass, and then he's either left all alone on an island, receives the ball too early, or too late and the opposition is able to stop that run. Or seeing Cameron Harper attacking down the right flank attacking and crossing the ball, only to get that ball to no one in space, or the chance not dangerous enough on the opposition keeper.

These are frustrating times and it feels like the poor seasons of 1999 & 2009 are coming back to haunt the 2023 New York Red Bulls. But this could be the worst of the three if these strings of results continue to go their way. What we did see was a Red Bulls side trying very hard to get the equalizer, they had plenty of chances to attack, and had an advantage with 17 shots to 3 against the Union, as Jim Curtin's side went defense all match long.

While they are having a poor season that started in 2023, the officiating has been dreadful towards the Red Bulls once again. Now I'm not saying the officials have to make calls for the Red Bulls to help them gain confidence or help them get a result, but this team doesn't need their help losing the game either, as they have shown they can do that all by themselves.

But when Referee Joe Dickerson and VAR referee Jair Marrufo failed in their jobs to make clear-cut decisions to award a penalty toward the Red Bulls and remove a penalty for the Union. In the second minute, Damion Lowe was defending against Elias Manoel inside the Union area. His left arm swung at the ball chest high, and his left hand struck it. Manoel automatically saw a handball.

There was a check by Marrufo who decided to not allow a change to a penalty and allowed the call of a corner to remain. Then Joe Dickerson failed in the 26th minute as he called a penalty for the Union when the contact was a bare minimum as Dylan Nealis defended against Julian Carranza. Marrufo called Dickerson over to the monitor to have a look. 

Sadly Dickerson did not change his call and allowed a barely touched Carranza takedown to stand, as Daniel Gazdag converted the penalty and the only goal of the match. After the match was over, the pool reporter went to the official's room and sought out Joe Dickerson for his thoughts on the call. 

"The referee saw foul contact by the New York Red Bulls player [Dylan Nealis] that impacted the Philadelphia player [Julian Carranza]. While at the monitor for review, the referee did not see a clear and obvious error." He also said that the referee didn't believe the attacking player went down so easily.

We are seeing a horrible display around the league where Referees and VAR are not in synch, or they are just allowing poor decisions to run amuck, and they just don't care about making correct decisions on the pitch. The outrage from Head Coach Gerhard Struber came to his breaking point and he earned a yellow card inside his technical area. 

What is going on at PRO Referees? How are these officials allowed to make horrible decisions, after horrible decisions against the Red Bulls? Did the club say something insulting towards them, and did they put a target on their backs? General Manager Mark Geiger, CEO Nick Primavera, and Chief Refereeing Officer Joe Fletcher need to haul in all of their referees who are sanctioned to officiate MLS and need to give them a refresher course. Bad calls happen once in a while, but now it's getting too common against the Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls are not doing well, and it's plain to see right in front of all of us, but they don't need the help from PRO Referees, to assist them to make their jobs even more difficult.


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