The Breakdown: Controversy vs. Philadelphia

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Revs cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Union last weekend, but the talking point will be Conor Casey's non-goal early in the second half. TBM's resident referee explains that call as well as the rest of the game vs. Philadelphia and takes a shot at the man of the match, Kelyn Rowe.

The last two times I did a breakdown like this, I said that I didn't want to have to keep writing them because usually it would mean that the Revs were losing.

Turns out you can have plenty of controversy in a 5-1 win as well.

We begin with Matt Reis in goal, and his incredibly bad decision to come off his line in the 50th minute. Look, overall I think Reis had a decent game in goal, but there was a five minute stretch in the beginning of the second half that terrified me.


Credit to Conor Casey for playing a tremendous through ball into Danny Cruz, but the ball and Cruz are going away from goal, and the after Cruz rounded Reis at the top of the 18, Cruz's only option was a bending shot into the far side net, something that would have been a easy save if Reis was on or near his line. I don't know why Matt Reis thought it was a good idea to come off his line, but even in real time it was a bad decision. Despite Chris Tierney's attempt to block the shot and cut down the angle, it's a very neat finish by Cruz, albeit into an empty net. But it was the initial decision by Reis that cost the Revs a goal and there were a few more nervy minutes in store for the Revs defense and keeper.

I won't go into detail on Le Toux's offside goal, mainly because, he was offside. It's good soccer by Philly and a solid shot by Sheanon Williams that hit the post, but the rebound that was bundled home by Le Toux was from an offside position. The embedded video below is the full highlight clip from MLSSoccer.com, because they don't have this sequence as its own video, scroll to about the middle (3:30 of the clip) to see Le Toux's offside put back followed by Conor Casey's non-goal.


It's the next sequence that makes no sense to me as a referee. The Union send in a cross, probably to Michael Farfan who's making a run on the far post area. It's initially covered well by Reis, but he's crashed into by his own guy, AJ Soares, and loses the ball. While kind of sitting over the ball, Casey pokes it home for what seems like the go-ahead goal for the Union, but it's called back for a foul on Casey.

For those wondering if Farfan interfered with the play on the run up, he did not. There's no way that would be a foul as far as I'm concerned. There's also no way that Reis has possession of the ball, having the ball between your legs doesn't mean much as far as possession goes for a goalkeeper. Even if Casey followed through on Reis, and there was a little bit of contact as he shot, that's not a foul either because in theory it's a 50/50 ball that Casey wins. The only things I know for sure is the Revs were on the good side of a bad call and Conor Casey, who was absolutely livid at referee Allen Chapman, has a very good case for a goal here and as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not against Reis getting more playing time, he's been a solid MLS keeper throughout his career and in New England. But just those five minutes early in the second half might be enough for Bobby Shuttleworth to reclaim the starting job between the posts, regardless of Reis' record starting this year, which stands at 3-0-1, sequences like that from career veterans or rookies are unacceptable.

I'm about to go on a quick tangent on dissent and persistent infringement. Dear Mr. Kelyn Rowe, you're two long distance strikes are very impressive. Your whining after every non-call in the box is not. Please stop having a conversation with the assistant referee during live play because it should result in a yellow card more often than not. I'm calling you out for your own good, because the Revs need you on the field.

Also, I have no idea how in the world Conor Casey doesn't get a yellow card for persistent infringement in the second half. His yellow card in the 81st minute was for dissent according to the box score, not for his 6th foul of the match and I think third in about a 15 minute stretch. Instead, Chapman books him for dissent, this after telling him in very clear referee language (the incomplete pass NFL/safe in MLB sign means No More in soccer) and yet it's not the foul, it's Casey's reaction? This hardly ever happens in soccer, and it probably should be seen more often, but a double yellow card there for persistent infringement and dissent would have been something to talk about because Chapman would have been right. Casey had been persistently infringing on the rules of the game, committed another foul after being warned, and then complained about it. But it hardly ever happens because, in my opinion, MLS referees are far too lenient on both of these issues. Personally, I don't like referees waiting to give out cards, especially for dissent. You want to have players stop complaining, book someone in the early going, send a message that as a referee you're not taking any crap today. Follow it up if you have too by handing out more cards throughout the match, but waiting until the 81st minute to issue a card for continual dissent? Pointless.

I don't know why, but I had a feeling that the Union were destined to finish that game with 10-men, especially once the scoreline started to get out of hand, but I would have put money on Casey as the one would see red. More on Okugo's red in a second.

For the rest of the half after his non-goal, Casey spent a lot of time complaining to the referee and committing fouls, and Chapman did very little about it until the game was well in hand. Issuing that card earlier, say around the 69th minute after Casey commits two fouls in as many minutes, probably keeps Casey from committing a few of those fouls (which protects the Revs) and might have keep the rest of the game under control (which means maybe everyone finishes with 11 men). Instead, partially due to poor game control by Chapman, in my opinion, the Union received four bookings in the final 15-plus minutes, including two to Amobi Okugo, who was sent off in stoppage time.


Let's look at this one more closely. First, Okugo body checks/obstructs Diego Fagundez in the 75th minute and gets the first yellow for a professional/tactical foul, fairly standard stuff although it looked a lot worse live but that's mainly because Diego is probably giving up a decent amount of weight in that matchup.


Now, in second half stoppage time, Sheanon Williams (who's also on a yellow after making contact with Soares' head/face in the 77th) has contained Dimitry Imbongo in the corner. Imbongo gets the nutmeg, but gets held up by Williams, which seemed harmless at the time, maybe a regular obstruction foul and no card. But Okugo arrives late, and stabs in with a challenge, and ends up stamping on Imbongo's foot. It's an incredibly stupid decision from Okugo, and you can't complain that Imbongo made a meal of it, you just spiked his foot. These little, petty, unnecessary challenges are the ones that often get you in the most trouble and Amobi Okugo will miss a game because of a silly challenge with only a minute left on the clock.

It's a refreshing change to breakdown a win, reminding everyone, including myself, that soccer is not without controversy or interpretation, regardless of the teams and the scoreline.

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