Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Thursday, June 16, 2005
  1-0...to the Referee
Last night was my first visit to Invesco Field…and boy was the match a stinker thanks to one of MLS’s biggest problems, poor officiating.

Now before any Rapids fans get on me, LA did not deserve to come away from Invesco with anything. However, referee Ricardo Valenzuela had more influence on the outcome of the match than any of the 22 (or 21…or 20) players on the pitch. Poor and inconsistent officiating ruined the match.

Not to take anything away from the Rapids they did what they had to under difficult circumstances.

Cunningham seems to have been taking flopping lessons from Carlos Ruiz. C’mon now if there was any contact, there’s no way Cobi Jones could bring down Big Jeff. It was a great gift from the ref and the primary reason for the title above. Up until that point, everything had been going the other way and I’m pretty sure it was Colorado’s first time that deep in LA’s half.

Hang on a second. Cobi Jones was in his own penalty area defending a fast break? Cobi Jones? Cobi “friggin” Jones? Cobi “5 feet nothing, 120 lbs when soaking wet with hair extensions in” Jones? C’mon Mr. Sampson. Please explain to me what’s going on here. It wasn’t the only time last night he was the last midfielder trying to stop a fast brake from Colorado. Now, I realize you are attempting to bring a Dutch “Total Footballish” style to the team…or at least it looks like that’s what you are doing. I was as big a fan of Dutch football in the late 70's as anyone. But I just can’t get my head around how you can think that allowing one of the greatest (though aging) forward thinking American players of the last 15 years to be playing in a defensive role so often. Geez, at Galaxy fans thought Sigi brought some strange tactics to the team. Perhaps Doug Hamilton can provide Galaxy fans with an explanation. After all, he’s the person who gave Sampson his current job.

Sorry, back to the game.

Ok, so the biggest point of contention regarding last nights match (besides the Galaxy's performance) was the way Valenzuela was dishing cards like he was a blackjack dealing in Vegas.

First off, even though the Soccer Mom crowd around me in sec 103 were completely blind even after the replay, and decided to take their frustration out on the person closest to them in a Galaxy shirt (me) there was contact made my Pablo. Was it embellished by Nagamura? Sure. Was it a foul? Probably. Was it worthy of a card? I didn’t think so. Should Mastoeni been sent off? No way.

After that, Colorado sat back and started to soak up pressure from LA. Of course, LA’s inability last night to string more than two or three passes together helped the home side.

Now, at half-time, I told my wife that I’m sure there will be another red card I the second-half to make up for the poor call on Mastoreni. It never accorded to me that it would be another Rapids player.

As if the first Red was bad enough, the second was embarrassing. The incident took place right in front of me. At the time I thought Melamed had slipped or lost his balance or something. I guess a foul might have been the right call. But for Valenzuela to show him Red? That was just wrong. While the Soccer Dads (Mom’s were covering the little one’s ears) started to hurl justified abuse at Valenzuela, I just sat there shaking my head. It was a poor call and at that point, I wasn’t sure what I wanted more: 1) 3 points for LA or 2) to leave the stadium with dignity in an LA jersey without my team being gifted a game.

As the match progressed, the home fans (at least on the other side of the stadium) got into the match. Now, I’ve seen plenty of games from Denver the last 10 years. Even though being there in person made the stadium seem even emptier than it looks on TV, it was good to see a bit of atmosphere being created at Invesco. Of course, the Soccer Mom crowd around me just sat on their hands waiting for the final whistle.

Colorado put on a bunker worthy of anything Kansas City could create. Their nine men managed to keep an anemic Galaxy attack (and they were throwing everyone except Hartman forward) from leveling the score. Honestly, after the 80th minute, I didn’t think it would happen. Sure, there were a couple of questionable offside calls but from the angle I was at, I can’t really comment one way or the other.

At the end of the day, I guess it was a fair result. Colorado did what they had to in order to leave with the points. LA sure didn’t. LA’s poor road record the last few years continues and my 100% road record (every game I’ve see LA play away from So Cal they’ve lost) is maintained. Any Rapids fans wanna fund my future attendance at Galaxy games in Denver? (Well, it was worth a try)

Hopefully, Sampson can sort things out by Saturday when the team heads to Dallas. But I don’t have much confidence in him as a coach so I’m not getting my hopes up.
 
Comments:
Really appreciate your account of the game - good luck in your continued exile from LA!
 
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An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

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