clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A Look at PRO, Part 1: How Orlando City Fared Before and After Jason Kreis’ Comments

New, 12 comments

Breaking down some common issues with the officiating in MLS and Orlando matches.

MLS: Preseason-Orlando City vs Esporte Clube Bahia Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first of a two-part series that examines the Professional Referee Organization (PRO). The purpose of the series is to take a look at the United States’ referees’ data, as well as some individual performances, to see the effectiveness of PRO’s officials. An important question that will constantly be brought up is, “Are PRO officials correctly adhering to the laws of the game, and if not, how can it be fixed?”

This first part will focus on referee stats and some common miscalls. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be briefly discussed but the subject of video review and VAR is not the focus. Also, it is important to note that when looking at officials’ stats it can only be seen what calls they did make. Therefore, they are only good to a certain point because they do not take into account the number of calls that were missed. In the next part I will go into individual games.


Since Orlando City has joined MLS there has been a stigma around the club and supporters that the referees do not call their games fairly. Both of the club’s managers, Adrian Heath and Jason Kreis — as well as players and fans — have voiced their displeasure over the officiating. From the Geiger Show to Ted Unkel, there seems to be some truth to this matter.

Back on June 4 was the perhaps the tipping point for Kreis when Unkel issued two straight reds to Orlando City players in a 0-0 draw against the Chicago Fire. The first (shown below) was to Rafael Ramos in the 26th minute and it could be argued that there was no foul at all.

About 41 minutes later, Antonio Nocerino was issued a red, on which even the Fire’s Michael de Leeuw looked surprised at the call. It was definitely a foul as Noce was late but the Italian was clearly playing the ball and Matt Polster jumped in front of Nocerino at the last minute.

While this was just one game, calls like this seem to go against the Lions too often, and led to Kreis calling out the officials over it after Orlando’s 3-1 home loss to Toronto FC.

The number of times that we’ve had defenders draped all over Cyle Larin in the box and he goes down and we don’t get penalty kicks for that...the number of times that we’ve had inadvertent handballs in the penalty box that we don’t get calls for but yet [Kaka] sticks his arm up a few games ago and gets a penalty kick called against him...it’s so many occasions now that I just can’t bear it anymore. The decision for the foul that [Sebastian] Giovinco scores the goal tonight to make the third goal for me was absolutely ridiculous. There’s no chance that our player gets that same foul called and we saw it time and time again tonight where our players were in those exact same positions, went down, and did not get the call.”

First I broke down the stats into two categories — Pre-Kreis and Post-Kreis comments — to look to see if the coach’s comments changed the way the officials called Orlando’s games.

Officials’ Stats: Pre-Kreis Comments

Referee Games Fouls Against Orlando City Fouls Against the Opposition Yellow Cards to Orlando City Yellow Cards to the Opposition Red Cards to Orlando City Red Cards to the Opposition
Referee Games Fouls Against Orlando City Fouls Against the Opposition Yellow Cards to Orlando City Yellow Cards to the Opposition Red Cards to Orlando City Red Cards to the Opposition
Bazakos, Fotis 1 14 12 3 2 0 0
Chapman, Allen 1 7 13 2 2 0 0
Elfath, Ismail 2 39 30 5 3 0 0
Fischer, Drew 1 10 18 1 4 0 0
Geiger, Mark 1 18 13 2 2 0 0
Gonzalez, Jorge 1 15 22 4 3 0 0
Kelly, Alan 1 11 7 2 2 0 0
Marrufo, Jair 2 10 12 5 6 0 0
Penso, Chris 2 20 24 2 5 0 0
Rivero, Jose Carlos 1 10 13 2 1 0 0
Saghafi, Nima 1 14 18 0 5 0 0
Salazar, Ricardo 1 9 7 2 3 0 0
Sibiga, Robert 2 27 25 5 5 0 0
Stoica, Sorin 1 12 18 1 3 0 0
Toledo, Baldomero 1 13 16 2 3 0 0
Unkel, Ted 1 8 14 0 2 2 0
Total 20 237 262 38 51 2 0

Looking at the table above, it is actually interesting to see that the officials called fewer fouls against the Lions, who were given fewer cards than the opposition. Orlando was given two red cards, which both came thanks to Mr. Unkel’s antics. Orlando’s opponents averaged .65 more cards per game than Orlando, and 1.25 more fouls.

Official’s Stats: Post-Kreis Comments

Referee Games Fouls Against Orlando City Fouls Against the Opposition Yellow Cards to Orlando City Yellow Cards to the Opposition Red Cards to Orlando City Red Cards to the Opposition
Referee Games Fouls Against Orlando City Fouls Against the Opposition Yellow Cards to Orlando City Yellow Cards to the Opposition Red Cards to Orlando City Red Cards to the Opposition
Chapman, Allen 1 15 14 2 2 0 0
Dickerson, Joseph 1 11 16 0 1 0 0
Gantar, Dave 1 19 16 4 4 1 0
Gonzalez, Jorge 1 16 18 3 4 1 0
Grajeda, Hilario 1 10 19 3 1 0 0
Guzman, Juan 1 17 20 1 4 0 1
Marrufo, Jair 1 12 12 0 0 0 0
Penso, Chris 1 10 10 3 1 0 0
Petrescu, Silviu 1 16 14 3 5 0 1
Rivero, Jose Carlos 1 8 15 2 3 0 0
Sibiga, Robert 1 17 22 4 1 0 0
Stott, Kevin 1 9 13 0 0 0 0
Toledo, Baldomero 1 11 16 3 1 1 0
Villarreal, Armando 1 11 14 0 2 0 0
Total 14 182 219 28 29 3 2

After the Kreis comments the numbers changed a little. In the final 14 games, the referees called 37 more fouls on the Lions, or an extra 2.6 per game. The number of cards were even. Looking at the total official stats (below), and the average is about the same with Orlando and throughout the league. So, statistically, the referees fairly officiated Orlando City games. However, there also must go into consideration the fouls not called and the types of fouls called.

2017 Referee Stats

Referee Games Fouls Awarded Yellow Cards Red Cards Yellows per game Reds per game
Referee Games Fouls Awarded Yellow Cards Red Cards Yellows per game Reds per game
Bazakos, Fotis 10 264 42 1 4.2 0.1
Chapman, Allen 22 485 79 5 3.59 0.23
Chilowicz, Alex 3 74 11 1 3.67 0.33
DeOliveira, Marcos 4 96 12 0 3 0
Dickerson, Joseph 1 27 1 0 1 0
Elfath, Ismail 21 562 61 7 2.9 0.33
Fischer, Drew 15 403 55 4 3.67 0.27
Gantar, Dave 8 202 22 4 2.75 0.5
Geiger, Mark 14 363 38 2 2.71 0.14
Gonzalez, Jorge 14 356 61 6 4.36 0.43
Grajeda, Hilario 17 490 68 1 4 0.06
Guzman, Juan 2 59 8 1 4 0.5
Kelly, Alan 25 594 83 2 3.32 0.08
Marrakchi, Younes 1 7 1 1 1 1
Marrufo, Jair 12 254 27 1 2.25 0.08
Penso, Chris 25 607 106 5 4.24 0.2
Petrescu, Silviu 15 410 62 1 4.13 0.07
Rivero, Jose Carlos 22 529 89 8 4.05 0.36
Saghafi, Nima 13 335 49 3 3.77 0.23
Salazar, Ricardo 21 457 70 4 3.33 0.19
Sibiga, Robert 24 567 89 4 3.71 0.17
Stoica, Sorin 13 360 50 2 3.85 0.15
Stott, Kevin 20 397 39 3 1.95 0.15
Toledo, Baldomero 21 552 82 14 3.9 0.67
Unkel, Ted 11 230 38 5 3.45 0.45
Vazquez, Rubiel 4 77 13 1 3.25 0.25
Villarreal, Armando 17 385 53 3 3.12 0.18
Total 375 9142 1309 89 3.30 0.26

There are many differences between Cyle Larin and Jozy Altidore. Altidore is a 28-year-old American striker, who has played professionally in the U.S., England, Spain, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Larin is a 22-year-old Canadian, and still with his first club. The Canadian has five international goals in 21 games, while the American has scored 42 times for the U.S. in 113 games.

Larin is still young though and so those numbers may eventually even out. The biggest difference though is that Altidore falls to the ground when a defender approaches him and yells for a foul, while Larin generally stays on his feet and aims to play the ball. This leads to Jozy getting more fouls as defenders continue to climb all over Larin.

This is a problem across the league. There are some players that continually get more calls than others and the officiating is not consistent throughout. However, this is not only an MLS problem, but a sports problem. LeBron James gets more calls in his favor than say Elfrid Payton. Tom Brady gets more calls than Trevor Siemian. Some players will always get more calls than others and that is a problem.

In soccer there are still more issues that have slowly been killing the game. Players falling to the ground as a time-wasting measure and flopping are the two biggest. Referees need to focus on these aspects of the game as well as consistently making the same calls.

Inconsistency among PRO officials between games, and even in the same game, is a huge issue. When this happens, the game is no longer fair, and players and coaches will make sure that the officials and the league know it. Tempers will flare and the game will become more aggressive, leading to more cards but also to injures. The most important part of the ref’s job is to keep players safe, and being inconsistent puts that job in jeopardy.

These were just a few of the issues with the officiating in MLS. I will later look at some solutions as well as some specific games officials have made the wrong calls.

Post in the comments and vote on what you think are the biggest issues with PRO.

Poll

What is the biggest issue with MLS officiating?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Inconsistency between referees.
    (8 votes)
  • 14%
    Players being allowed to waste time.
    (4 votes)
  • 14%
    Players being allowed to flop.
    (4 votes)
  • 32%
    Referees getting the calls wrong.
    (9 votes)
  • 10%
    Other.
    (3 votes)
28 votes total Vote Now