Did we witness the worst call so far this season in Major League Soccer on Sunday?
Well, the Orlando City SC fraternity seem to think so after what can only be described as a downright case of peer pressure on Baldomero Toledo.
Awarding New England Revolution a last gasp penalty after an ALLEGED handball from Servando Carrasco that ACTUALLY hit his shoulder, Lee Nguyen successfully converted the spot kick to salvage a 2-2 draw at the Citrus Bowl.
This was of course after what we all thought was a late winner from Kevin Molino but no!
The PRO Referee originally blew his whistle for a free-kick – wrong itself because Carrasco was in the box even if it was handball which it wasn’t – before dramatically changing his mind and breaking our Lions’ hearts in the process.
As we are all too painfully familiar now, no single MLS club gets on with referees but Orlando City SC seem to have been dealt some extraordinarily terrible treatment so far this 2016 season, seemingly racking up trash calls by the game.
While these following instances will serve as bad reminders of what could’ve been, we think it’s ample time to reflect on the FOUR worst Orlando City SC calls of the 2016 Major League Soccer season so far.
Just when will it stop?
Orlando City SC vs Chicago Fire – March 11, 2016
Orlando City SC 1 Chicago Fire 1 (Credit: Chicago Fire)
We all freely admit that Orlando City SC were bang average in this game.
After all, Chicago Fire were deserving of their point on the night after an admirable defensive display following Michael Harrington’s first-half dismissal.
Nevertheless, we still witnessed a shocker from referee Ted Unkel in stoppage time!
Failing to break down Fire’s back line in the second-half, expertly deployed by Veljko Paunović, there was a glimmer of a late winner when Jonathan Campbell appeared to be closer than touch tight to Cyle Larin in felling the Canadian international to the ground in the box.
Unkel wasn’t interested and Fire escaped O-Town with a point.
This one definitely felt like two points dropped; one because the Lions were up against 10 men for around an HOUR and two because it was another home game in which Adrian Heath‘s side were expected to pick up maximum points against last season’s Eastern Conference whipping boys anyway!
PS – Notice how Chicago Fire left the Larin melee OUT of their post-match highlights reel above!
Philadelphia Union vs Orlando City SC – April 8, 2016
Tranquillo Barnetta’s match-winning free-kick (Credit: Major League Soccer)
Ah, the free-kick that was never meant to be!
While we take absolutely nothing away from Tranquillo Barnetta who hit an absolutely inch-perfect worldie of a strike to defeat Orlando City SC in the final knockings of our last road game, the PRO Referee organisation later judged that Jair Marrufo SHOULDN’T have awarded the call.
With the Swiss international stepping up to take his match-winning free-kick in the 90th minute and just outside the Lions’ penalty area, FOUR Philadelphia Union players were deliberately standing in offside positions behind the wall.
Marrufo HAD warned the Union players that they’d be flagged offside while setting up the play as all referees should do but when Barnetta struck the free-kick beyond Joe Bendik, these same Philly players were STILL offside – but not a word from Jair Marrufo!
A blatant case of incompetence on the part of Marrufo and yet again, the points situation changed dramatically with one point on the road immediately turning to none!
Orlando City SC vs Portland Timbers – April 3, 2016
A controversial entry now considering many fans admitted Brek Shea‘s tackle on Dairon Asprilla was actually worthy of a red at the time but nevertheless, Orlando City UK are unfamiliar with retrospective calls of THIS nature from across the pond here in England!
As the story goes, Brek Shea most definitely took out Portland Timbers winger Asprilla in the 15th minute and was awarded a swift yellow from referee Alan Kelly when he probably SHOULDN’T have been on the field to score his sumptuous first ever Lions goal later in the 32nd minute.
That said, it was a FEW DAYS later that Major League Soccer retrospectively punished Shea with a red card for “serious foul play that endangered the safety of an opponent.”
Let us make this clear. Brek Shea‘s foul was worthy of a red but to wait a few days after the Lions’ eventual 4-1 victory to enforce this punishment didn’t seem to sit right.
As we say, we’ve seen retrospective calls whereby red cards have been rescinded over here in the UK but the other way around? Hmm!
Orlando City SC vs New England Revolution – April 17, 2016
MLS Instant Replay – Week 7 (Credit: Major League Soccer)
Quite clearly the worst of the lot and the example of terrible refereeing that we alluded to at the head of this article!
Baldomero Toledo quite simply didn’t know what he was doing in the 95th minute of Sunday’s game at the Citrus Bowl as he CHANGED HIS MIND to award New England Revolution a spot-kick that ultimately cost the Lions’ all three points.
Again, let us be clear. We’re not ignoring the fact that Kevin Molino DID handle the ball which contributed to Adrian Heath’s side originally going 2-1 up in stoppage time but in the case of the alleged handball from Servando Carrasco, it was downright wrong.
While bodies disguised Molino’s handball to excuse Toledo’s call somewhat, his next actions turned the Citrus Bowl into a melting pot of anger and frustration.
As Lee Nguyen went to whip in a ball that looked like a cross or shot on goal, the ball hit Carrasco INSIDE the box and on the SHOULDER and NOT the hand.
Firstly, Toledo blew up for a FREE-KICK (wrong in itself as Carrasco was in the box) that was then followed by what seemed like five minutes of deliberation as Lions and Revs stars surrounded the referee with New England players desperately shouting for a pen.
And then, the penalty call itself to the city of Orlando’s bemusement!
Orlando City SC 2 New England Revolution 2 – Reaction (Credit: The MLS Show)
A classic case of evening up the game after we assume that Toledo was informed by one of his other officials that Molino handled at the other end.
Lee Nguyen coolly slotted the penalty and three points disappeared into one!
So there you have it! It appears we’ve had almost a season’s worth of bad luck in the first six MLS fixtures!
One thing is for sure; Inchy is going to be even more fired up but just when is our luck going to change?