A favorite saying of former Orlando City and now Minnesota coach Adrian Heath is that “goals change games.” Well, by the same token, calls that provide teams with goals can also change games.
We saw a perfect example of that last night when Silviu Petrescu inexplicably awarded the Columbus Crew a penalty very late in last night’s match on seemingly routine — and light — contact between RJ Allen and Patrick Mullins. The Crew forward went to ground and rather than being admonished to get up, he was rewarded with a game-changing call.
Petrescu went to his earpiece and then awarded the penalty anyway without taking a second look at the play himself on the monitor. He even confusingly made the VAR symbol with his hands, which is generally used to indicate a change of a call, but the call wasn’t changed, and the veteran referee doubled down on an awful decision.
After the match, Petrescu responded to a pool reporter’s questions, stating that, in his view, Allen had charged into Mullins from behind. Allen didn’t “charge” anyone but since Petrescu relied solely on VAR Jon Freemon and didn’t review the video himself, he passed the buck on the final decision rather than see for himself if he’d erred.
It was honestly so confusing that many people weren’t even sure if the play was, in fact, reviewed at all.
Below is a collection of some notable reactions on social media, starting with the more measured and politically correct things that were said right after the game.
First up, James O’Connor and Sacha Kljestan right after the match:
Courtesy of the club, here's Orlando City Head Coach James O'Connor speaking about the penalty decision after the match. #OCSC pic.twitter.com/iE86GzZbgm— Austin David (@AustinDavid22) July 22, 2018
Also, courtesy of the club, here's what Sacha Kljestan had to say regarding the penalty. #OCSC pic.twitter.com/cfbYMEKPMd— Austin David (@AustinDavid22) July 22, 2018
Other players, former players, and front office personnel gave their thoughts.
Wasn’t going to say anything but after seeing the ref’s cop out comments, the worst decision I’ve ever seen, If the ref had any humility he would check VAR, if he did “check” then it’s even more of a joke! https://t.co/MRzCWDHquY— Dom Dwyer (@Ddwyer14) July 22, 2018
July 22, 2018
Honestly, this is SO shocking and upsetting...even more so embarrassing when reviewed by VAR ref, and still a PK. https://t.co/Dqjg10Vf3m— Ali Krieger (@alikrieger) July 22, 2018
This is an absurd. I am sorry but there is no explanation for this one, nobody can be so incompetent. Hard to be in an insane pressure, work hard to recover to breath again and see something like that happens. Very frustrating. https://t.co/VnVubroSB3— Alex Leitao (@alexleitao) July 22, 2018
That penalty is one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen a referee make. The worst part is that they even reviewed it and still came to the same conclusion. Absolutely embarrassing! #CLBvsORL— Luke Boden (@Bodz1988) July 22, 2018
Absolute disgrace mate and who will be held accountable? Absolutely no one!— Lewis Neal (@lewis_neal24) July 22, 2018
I feel like someone just kicked me in the s.. gutted for the players , worked their tails off and got cheated at the end !— Miguel Gallardo (@migallardo01) July 22, 2018
Our basketball brethren with the Orlando Magic took note of the play as well.
This was a penalty ??? Come on @MLS ... be better than this https://t.co/r19ehZKEtp— Nikola Vucevic (@NikolaVucevic) July 22, 2018
Writers for MLSSoccer.com and other sites weighed in.
Wow that looks like a 4-ply-moisturized-soft PK call in Columbus— Charles Boehm (@cboehm) July 22, 2018
Just watched the penalty call in CLBvORL. Inexcusable to make that call live. Incomprehensible that it wasn't reviewed.— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) July 22, 2018
Dom and Mike Petke are going to be hanging out in VAR jail together next week. Also, Dwyer isn’t wrong. Brutally bad call that VAR should have helped erase. https://t.co/wthxsA5E4o— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) July 22, 2018
Don’t know how you can call a penalty like the one at the end of the Orlando game last night. If City miss the playoffs by a point, that will be why. What a star-crossed club they are sometimes.— The Yanks Are Coming (@YanksAreComing) July 22, 2018
Did you see any other notable reactions? If so, please share them.