Following Orlando City’s 3-1 loss to Toronto FC at Orlando City Stadium, Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis held his usual press conference to talk about the match. It was like any other post-game presser, until it wasn’t.
Following the final question from the assembled media, Kreis spoke out about what he sees as an uneven distribution in 50/50 calls and penalties for Orlando City this season. Here’s what the gaffer had to say (Note: the first two graphs were off-the-cuff, the third graph is in response to a follow-up question by Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, and the final graph was in response to a follow-up question from Simon Veness of mlssoccer.com):
“I’d like to just say one more thing here. It hasn’t been asked by anybody and I’ve spent the entire season keeping my mouth closed about it but tonight I need to say that it’s beginning to feel like in this stadium — and I know this from prior experience — but it’s beginning to feel like in this stadium we have referees that will not make critical calls for us for whatever reason. It appears to me that the referees are bending over backwards to show that they’re not going to show any bias. Perhaps it’s due to us having a raucous crowd or whatever it is but I’m tired of it. I’m absolutely tired of it and I have to say here tonight that I don’t think that we here as a club, as a fan group, as a coaching staff, as anybody else, that we should continue to stand for that.
We go away and we feel like the away team by the referees’ decisions on those 50/50 calls and we come home and we still feel the away team and I think it’s unacceptable.
The only thing I can come up with is one of two reasons. Reason number one may be that because our crowd is so raucous and so vocal that the referees feel that they are a little bit intimidated or the second reason is that they don’t respect our team — because we haven’t been a team that’s made the playoffs, because we don’t have, I don’t know, the big enough players. Whatever it is, for me it has to stop. I just want things to be level and equal.
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 Ricky 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 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.”
Certainly the league isn’t going to like Kreis’ remarks and as a veteran coach he obviously knows that he’ll face some repercussions — likely in the form of fines. But what he said will ring true to many Orlando City supporters, who have watched things like Rafael Ramos’ sending off vs. Chicago, the Matt Lampson stomp on Carlos Rivas’ ankle a couple of games ago, and the two times in this very match when Jozy Altidore went down easy to earn free kicks that resulted in a goal and a vibrating crossbar, while Cyle Larin was routinely held and knocked down in the box at the other end without repercussion.
What do you think? Are the Lions getting their share of 50/50 calls this season? Is this sour grapes by a frustrated coach? Is it both?