The Seattle Sounders discovered what it truly means to be a Major League Soccer club on Sunday during their 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy before nearly 30,000 fans at Quest Field.
Match referee Tim Weyland welcomed Seattle to the league by sending off Sounders defender James Riley for a scrum involving a Galaxy player and the ball (one or the other wanted it for a restart, the scrum started, and Riley got in a shot – hard for me to say he should have been ejected, though). Riley was initially cautioned, then sent off, according to the Seattle Times, after Weyland conferred with one of his assistants.
Weyland also allowed play to continue when Galaxy midfielder Dema Kovalenko pushed Seattle’s Nate Jaqua down in the box, calling nothing. However, Weyland then went crazy-go-nuts, issuing five more cautions after sending off Riley. Every time I looked up, Weyland was on screen. That’s not a good thing.
According to the match recap, Weyland sent off three players from decent – one from Seattle (Ljungberg) and two from LA (Magee and Sanneh)! Jaqua later got one for a reckless tackle, as did Stefani Miglioranzi for the same reason, a few minutes from full time. For the record, Riley’s yellow was for unsporting behavior, while the red was for violent conduct.
You can always argue the merits of a penalty as to whether it was deserved or not. But to then go card-happy later in the game while ignoring contact that in theory, took away the chance for a shot at goal, is a little ridiculous. If nothing else, it screams for lessons in game management.
Weyland’s performance is now being reviewed by US Soccer. And to this I say, Bravo. Of course, we are never going to hear anything from Weyland, and it’s not as if some don’t believe he hasn’t been a talking point in previous games. We also know based on Jair Marrufo’s Opening Day howler and then his involvement in the Tale of the Blanco Jersey after a Chicago-Columbus game, that this hasn’t been the best season so far for MLS referees. When a performance comes across as questionable, something needs to be done just to keep the process transparent. MLS Executive Vice President Todd Durbin said Weyland “didn’t have his best day.”
No kidding. It may be that the USSF decides Weyland didn’t do anything fundamentally wrong. I don’t have a dog in the hunt, so if that’s the case, so be it. But at the very least, we will know that they have taking a look at things and hopefully, judged everything on its merits in a wise fashion. Closing up shop, never saying a word about it and leaving it out there to fester would be much worse.
True conspiracy theorists will point out that it was Los Angeles on the receiving end of these “performances” by Weyland Sunday and Marrufo in the season’s first week. I can’t sit here and say there’s anything to that, to be honest, but it’s a fact. Make what you want from it. And hell, even if they were, LA’s only been good enough to get two points from those two games. And it’s not like you can hold ties under suspicion too much, since many teams are getting them in bulk this season.
Every week, the USSF comes out with a referee report on its web site based on various things that occur in games around the country, and not just at the MLS level. While the podcast they do for it is a little dry, the report is excellent reading.
I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s in it this week – and further, when/if we are going to see Weyland in the middle for any games in the coming week or two.
I’m not suggesting necessarily that he should necessarily ride the pine for a while. It’s not for me to decide. But it will be interesting to see how the scenario plays out.
My guess is Seattle won’t be happy with anything short of Weyland being exiled to Peru, but we’ll see what the USSF does.