Your weekly recap of the controversial calls from the USL week that was.
Week 21 in the USL brought another exciting round of matches. As the teams continue to push for playoff position, the referees appear to be stepping up their game, too. In total, only one red card and seven penalties were given out this week. The officials seem to be doing a great job of keeping the games under control, while letting the players play.
The only red card this week came in a well-played, midweek match between LA Galaxy II and Swope Park Rangers. In a tight 1-1 game late, Swope Park sent a through ball to forward and goal scorer Hadji Barry. Barry got a touch on the ball in LA’s box and appeared to attempt to dribble around the goalkeeper. However, he then looked to take a dive, hoping for a penalty. Already on a yellow card. I believe the referee correctly gave him his second yellow and marching orders for embellishment. A huge round of applause must be given to the official Mark Allatin for stepping up to the plate and making a big decision late in the game. Too many times around the league, we see players take an obvious dive going unpunished. It’s refreshing to see an official make the right call.
Next, taking a look at an improving Toronto II in Pittsburgh to take on the always tough Riverhounds. Coming off their first win of the season, Toronto II, oozing with confidence, kept the match scoreless through the first 74 minutes. The visitors just missed out on a superb chance to take the lead as the USL’s clean sheet leader, Daniel Lynd, turned away Shaan Hundal goal. Not even four minutes later, the opportunistic Riverhounds found the net, thanks to impressive build up through the midfield. The controversy occurred on the final ball as Toronto argued that Neco Brett was offside. Taking a closer look at the replay, it appears that the linesman ref got it 100% right. The hardest call to make as an official is the offside call, credit to the official he was spot on.
Finally, we take a look at the developing rivalry between Indy Eleven and Louisville City SC, better known as the “Louisville Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest.” This game could have gone either way, with both sides missing a penalty. Brian Ownby missed a goal for Louisville City in the 5th minute, while Eugene Starikov missed his chance to score in the 73rd minute of play. The penalty awarded to the Indy Eleven appeared to be questionable. Starikov received a through ball into the left side of Louisville’s box. Feeling the defender on his back, he absorbed the contact and went to ground. Louisville immediately protested to the referee, persuading him to get a second opinion from his assistant. The call remained the same. Luckily for Louisville City, Greg Ranjitsingh made the save and kept the game level. The penalty decision could have gone either way. There was player contact, but it did appear that the forward went down rather easily. The referee put himself in a good position to make the call, around 10 yards away from the foul and discussed the call with one of his assistants. Referee Elvis Osmanovic followed protocol and used all resources available to him to make the best call he could. As a fan, that’s all you can ask for.
Stayed tuned for an article next week breaking down Week 22!