The 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs started on Wednesday and there’s already been a controversial call. FC Dallas hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Knockout Round with the winner and advanced to take on the Seattle Sounders. Mark Geiger was the center referee and was the center of controversy by game’s end.
Off a Dallas throw in near the 18-yard box, the ball was sent into the box and found Kendall Waston’s hand. As a result, Geiger whistled and pointed for a penalty kick. The penalty ended up being the game-winning goal. Yet, it was the right call by Geiger, yet many soccer pundits would disagree. Watch it for yourself below.
It was a big call by Geiger, but the correct one. While Waston’s arm was in a natural position, he moved his arm back after making contact with the ball. The ball clearly made contact with his hand. Many think Geiger should have swallowed his whistle in the situation, but they are wrong.
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Well, referees should not make or not make calls situationally. If a foul is a foul or a penalty kick is a penalty kick, then it should be called. Rules are rules and situations shouldn’t dictate rule infringements to be called or not.
Geiger wrote the following to the pool reporter, “This was a handling offense in the penalty area. This would be called at any moment of the match.”
After the match, Waston described the controversial play. “It was a quick play. I tried to put my hand behind my body, but you know sometimes referees see something else.”
Alexi Lalas chimed in on the call as well and how handballs in general should be called.
The Whitecaps were visibly upset with Geiger’s penalty call. They have every right to. However, they have no right to surround him post-match. The Whitecaps’ unprofessional behavior by the Whitecaps players specifically Sebastien Fernandez. He was given a straight red card post-game for abusive language towards the referee.
At the same time, FC Dallas should have had security break up the situation and escorted the refereeing crew off the field. Geiger could have been physically attacked by an enraged Whitecaps player.
On another hand, the Whitecaps should be blaming themselves for losing. Their long ball strategy wasn’t working all game. They have the offensive weapons and should have directly attacked the Dallas back-line.
In the end, Dallas advances and the Whitecaps offseason begins now. Yet, Geiger’s correct penalty kick call will be the center of attention and controversy when it shouldn’t be. He, not the press and fans watching, had the best angle for making a bold call. He correctly called it, but will be chastised for not “swallowing his whistle.” It’s a tough situation to be in, but he called it the right way.