It hasn't exactly been a banner year for MLS referees.
It seems like every week, there's some sort of controversy sparked by the man in the middle. If you don't believe me then watch MLSSoccer.com's Instant Replay. This week's big controversy could come from referee Fotis Bazakos, who has drawn heavy criticism for his penalty call during Saturday's game between the New England Revolution and Seattle Sounders.
Bazakos pointed to the spot in the 23rd minute after deeming that Erik Friberg had used his arms inside the box. Seattle players weren't happy with the call, as they believed that Friberg was in the process of tucking his arms in and didn't have much time to react. Regardless, Lee Nguyen stepped up and scored his third PK of the year.
Bazakos defended his decision by offering the following statement to the local pool reporter: "From my position, I observed Friberg’s arms raised away from his body. Then I observed his arm making contact with the ball."
The penalty call was a big moment in the game as it helped shift momentum in favor of the Revolution. In his post-game press conference, Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said that a call like that "certainly brings you down psychologically." The home team would go on to win 2-1, collecting three points ahead of the Copa America break.
More than that, the moment sparked a conversation about using video replay to help MLS officials. It's something that league officials have been discussed in the past. It's also something that Schmid fully supports.
"I think that penalty kicks and red cards, there’s always a stoppage in play," Schmid explained. "It takes time. It takes time before the penalty kick is taken, it takes time before a player goes off the field with a red card, and I think those situations can easily be reviewed by having a monitor. You already have a fourth official with an earpiece."
Jay Heaps agreed with his counterpart's assessment, believing that the use of instant play could've changed the results of some games. For now, however, we're stuck with the system currently in place, though change could be on the horizon.
"I think that needs to happen in our sport because too often games are decided by bad calls," Schmid.