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House of Cards: PRO Referees and Orlando City

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How have PRO referees and the fouls they've called (or not called) affected the Lions' season so far?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody likes PRO Referees. Well, maybe their mothers like them, but MLS fans do not. Fouls, penalties, and red and yellow cards are the bane of supporters during a game. How has this universally despised organization affected Orlando City so far this season?*

*Note: All game statistics courtesy of MLSsoccer.com.

March 6 vs. Real Salt Lake

Referee - Chris Penso
Assistant Referee - Charles Morgante
Assistant Referee - Kevin Klinger
Fourth Official - Robert Sibiga

The first match of the season against Real Salt Lake was full of drama, including two red cards. It was a physical match the whole time, even when both teams were down to ten players. Orlando City committed 13 fouls, two in particular were costly. Obviously, the red card didn't help, but the foul by Seb Hines in the penalty box on Joao Plata set up the penalty kick that put Real Salt Lake ahead. That foul came after the red card on Demar Phillips put RSL a man down.

Fouls Committed Fouls Suffered Yellow Cards Red Cards
Orlando City 13 9 2 1
Real Salt Lake 10 13 1 1


Let's be fair, both of the red cards and the foul in the penalty kick were deserved. Does that mean the refs couldn't have let the game flow better? Of course not, but the players were getting chippy in the first game of the season.

March 11 vs. Chicago Fire

Referee - Ted Unkel
Assistant Referee - Sean Hurd
Assistant Referee - Kermit Quisenberry
Fourth Official - Marcos de Oliviera

This match had the most fouls of the season so far. It was also very lopsided as we can see from the numbers below. Though both teams had three yellow cards, and Chicago's Michael Harrington was sent off, Orlando City was still called for more fouls. Fortunately, none of the fouls resulted in a goal for Chicago.

FC FS YC RC
Orlando City 21 8 3 0
Chicago Fire 8 18 3 1


Ted Unkel didn't do a horrible job. Yes, there were some questionable calls--most importantly a non-call late in the match. Cyle Larin was pulled to the ground in the penalty box with the ball at his feet and there was no penalty. Let's be clear, there should have been a penalty called. That being said, Orlando City had chances, but it's clear from the numbers that Orlando City was called for more fouls, deserved or not.

March 18 at New York City FC

Referee - Allen Chapman
Assistant Referee - Claudiu Badea
Assistant Referee - Danny Thornberry
Fourth Official - Jose Carlos Rivero

This was the game with the least amount of fouls, and the game was called pretty evenly. Which is a little weird, seeing as it was against NYCFC. Orlando City came away with the win, despite being under consistent pressure for most of the game.

FC FS YC RC
Orlando City 8 7 2 0
New York City FC 9 7 1 0


Chapman's squad did a good job of not making themselves the focus of the game. I suppose PRO doesn't always PRO. But most of the time PRO is going to PRO.

While we'd all prefer that referees are mostly invisible, it's a part of the game. Let's hope that they don't screw Orlando City out of a win or draw this season. Entirely possible, but we can hope. While we're hoping, perhaps we could hope that MLS decides to contract with a different referee provider. If I can switch wireless carriers I'm sure MLS can switch refs.

Vamos Orlando!