Refs deciding MLS games more than players - Orlando City's Adrian Heath
Orlando City manager Adrian Heath said referees are deciding more MLS games than the players while trying to describe the "disappointing" officiating that he felt cost his team the game against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
Heath was left wondering what happened to the referee's whistle on Sunday when striker Cyle Larin was taken down by New York defender Karl Ouimette when through on goal in the 63rd minute, and referee Hilario Grajeda allowed play to continue.
The Lions were leading 1-0 at the time but the Red Bulls fought back to win 3-2, and Heath said allowing Ouimette to stay in the game made for a very different outcome.
"Well, I think of games that are really tight, decisions went against us -- again," Heath said. "I think the biggest decision of the night was, 'Was Cyle Larin fouled?' Yes he was. Is it a red card? Yes, it is. It could have been a big turning point in the game.
Heath covered his mouth with his hands as he tried to explain the difficulties of officiating in MLS this season.
"Me and Jesse [Marsch, the Red Bulls coach] have just been talking. He's in the same mind as me. It's another game where -- the official, my God -- it was... It's disappointing."
Professional Referee Organization general manager Peter Walton told Fox Sports after the game that Ouimette should have received a red card for being the last defender, but that the foul occurred outside the box.
But Heath said the red card was more important than a potential penalty in this instance.
"I've said it before, 'goals change games,' and had we gotten a penalty, had we scored, I think 2-0 makes it a completely different game," he said. "Are they down to 10 men? Even if we don't score the penalty, it changes to whole complexion of the game.
"Big decisions change games. We've had it three weeks on the trot."
Since MLS defended its officiating records on April 4, the number of red cards has dropped from 16 in the first 42 games -- the league's second-highest rate in 15 years -- to just five in the most recent 32 matches.
Asked for a possible solution to his side's recent trouble with officiating, Heath said, "How long have we got? We have a flight tomorrow.
"I think that's for other people. I've said over numerous occasions what I think the issue is, but I get myself in too much trouble when I say things.
"But too many times, and I said this in the week, too many times the outcome of the game is by the people who are [officiating], not the people who are participating in it."
Larin also said he believed he should have been awarded a penalty.
"The last few weeks we have been getting bad calls. They have to do better than that ... It's a penalty," he said. "I got in front of the guy, he got in behind me and he banged me down. Obviously it looked like the keeper got to the ball first, but I was gone if he didn't take me down.
"I don't know if [Grajeda] couldn't see it, but I was clearly in front of [Ouimette] and gone. He brought me down, the ball was in front of me. I would have scored if I wasn't hit. It's a clear penalty."