Look, I understand completely that there was a fair number of people who couldn't believe that the referees added 8 minutes of time to the end of the second half of last Sunday's New England Revolution-Columbus Crew game.
The Revs were on the verge of clinching not only their first playoff berth since 2009, but also the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference based on other results. So seeing that number was only prolonging the agony and nerves that go along with being a fan at such a tense time.
But there are still rules to be followed, and one of them is added time, injury time or stoppage time. Whatever you call it it's an arbitrary decision from the refereeing crew as to how many stoppages occurred and how much time will be added on to each half. There is no set system in place for adding time, each crew is left to their own devices as to how much added time there is and when to officially end a game (like adding stoppage time in stoppage time).
There are two recent examples that Revs fans should remember, although neither of them are particularly fond memories. In Montreal, there was 6 additional minutes of added time in the first half due to Saer Sene's serious leg injury. In New York, the referee signaled for 4 minutes at the end of the second half, but between Diego Fagundez's goal and Andrew Farrell's injury, that number ballooned to almost double that, enough time for Tim Cahill to equalize in the 97th minute. (Sorry, I had to bring that up again.)
So I'm going to watch the second half again in it's entirety and mark down all the significant stoppages in the game. These would include mainly injuries, bookings, substitutions and time wasting, not the ball being out of bounds. The ball being out of bounds is within the rules of the game and is generally not included in and added time scenarios. Time wasting or delaying a restart however is not within the rules and is a cautionable offense.
But first, a little housekeeping on Dominic Oduro's red card in the final minute of regulation.
This is about as clear a case of violent conduct as you can get. Oduro loses out on possession to Kelyn Rowe, but it's actually Lee Nguyen who clears the ball. At the same time, Oduro kicks out at Rowe and dumps him to the turf, in full view of Grajeda. And if that wasn't bad enough, Oduro stands over Rowe as if he's embellishing something, which I can assure you sealed Oduro's fate as Grajeda went straight to his back pocket. It's very telling that Grajeda stopped play with Agudelo having a chance to run onto Nguyen's clearance. That usually means a dismissal is coming since the referee must waste a potential advantage to make a booking and that's exactly what happened here.
Ok, I've got my MLS Live cued up for the second half, let's start counting stoppages. The following times are going to be approximate, partially because of camera angles and production value you don't see the play halted/restarted every time, but it'll be good enough I promise. I thought that eight minutes added time was justified and I'm going to prove it to you guys.
48th Minute - Goncalves/Schoenfeld Knock Heads, Crew Makes 1st Sub - Anor for Speas
(Play Stopped 47:30, Play Resumed 49:30, Potential Added Time - 2 Minutes)
This was actually the second time these two came together, both collided in the first half in similar fashion. There's no foul called but Grajeda rightfully stops play when both players go down to allow both training staffs to attend to possible head injuries. Schoenfeld took the worst of it but it's actually Bernardo Anor who is subbed off with his own potential injury in favor of Ben Speas.
54th Minute - Schoenfeld Can't Continue, Finlay On
(Play Stopped 53:00, Play Resumed 54:00, Potential Added Time - 1 Minute, Total Potential Added Time - 3 Mintues)
Aaron Schoenfeld goes down to a knee and is tended too before coming off. It's the right decision for the Crew, despite having to make two early subs. Can't take chances with any type of concussion type injuries. Tough break for Schoenfeld because I know he's dealt with injures in the past.
63rd Minute - Fagundez Fouled by Marshall, Receives Treatment
(Play Stopped 62:30, Play Resumed 63:30, Potential Added Time - 1 Minute, Total Potential Added Time - 4 Minutes)
It's a fairly harmless challenge by Chad Marshall, but he does tangle with Deigo's legs there at the end a bit awkwardly and Fagundez takes a moment to collect himself. Solid analysis by FSN Ohio on this: "Fagundez giving up about a foot and half in hieght, and another Fagundez in weight." It's a fair point, but as your chuckling, Revs have a free kick.
66th Minute - Alston, Williams Collide on Challenge
(Play Stopped 65:30, Play Resumed 66:00, Potential Added Time - 30 Seconds, Total Potential Added Time - 4:30 Minutes)
Have to add this one in because the referee had to stop play, although it appear New England was about to play the ball out of bounds anyway. Josh Williams was able to continue and I don't think trainers tended to him or he left the field, but it's a stoppage.
72nd Minute - Crew Makes Final Sub, Meram On, Viana Off
(Play Stopped 70:45, Play Resumed 71:15, Potential Added Time - 30 Seconds, Totatl Potential Added Time - 5 Minutes)
Doesn't matter how quick you make a substitution, it takes about 30 seconds to make it all happen. Crew take off a defender with a yellow, add an attacker and they're out of subs.
72nd Minute - Alston Down with Injury, Barnes On
(Play Stopped 71:45, Play Resumed 73:45, Potential Added Time - 1:30 Minutes, Totat Potential Added Time - 6:30 Minutes)
Well, this wasn't exactly good. Kevin Alston, filling in for usual starter Chris Tierney who's dealing with his own injury, is forced out and replaced by Darrius Barnes who's seen very little action this year but has been solid when on the field. And if you check out our player ratings from last week, both Alston and Barnes got solid scores from the staff.
Also, 90 seconds away from 8 minutes...
84th/89th Minutes - Reis, Agudelo Booked For Time Wasting
(Potential Added Time - 1 Minute Total, Total Potential Added Time - 7:30)
Play doesn't really "stop" for these two plays, and the bookings happen pretty much in the run of play, but time was still wasted so lets add 30 seconds a piece for the two plays just in case.
89th Minute - Oduro Dismissed for Taking Down Rowe
(Play Stopped 89:30, Play Resumed 91:00, Potential Added Time - 1:30 Minutes, Totat Potential Added Time - 9 Minutes)
We covered the red card above, but this actually takes a lot of time to happen. Grajeda has to check on Rowe first, then dismiss Oduro, then allow the trainers to get Rowe off the field.
And we've actually gone over the 8 minutes of stoppage time that was put up by the assistant and I didn't even include the Revs second substitution (Caldwell for Imbongo) which took about 5 seconds or the time that was lost tending to Agudelo and Marshall in stoppage time that wasn't added on (could've been another minute added) but Grajeda blew the game at essentially 98:00, after only the 8 minutes of original stoppage time.
But there's a quick look into the inexact science of stoppage time. I have a feeling that the 4th official is sitting on the sideline basically doing the same thing I just did in really long form. So while fans and coaches can carry on about how many minutes Grajeda and his officials added to extend the Revolution's playoff chase by 8 minutes, at the end of the day, they usually get this stuff right. But it is arbitrary, so if Grajeda wanted to add another minute, he rightfully could have in stoppage time, and forced the game to go on for a little while longer.
But in the end, the New England Revolution claimed 3rd place in the East and are in the playoffs. Even if you think the referees did everything they could to prevent that.