A handshake between coaches that led to a double ejection and a penalty kick call reversal represented the most controversial calls of the last MLS weekend.
U.S. Soccer Director of Referee Development Paul Tamberino addressed both incidents with MLSsoccer.com and revealed the rationale behind the rulings on the field.
Kinnear-Olsen Red Cards
In the 90th minute of Saturday’s 3-1 victory by the Houston Dynamo over D.C. United at RFK Stadium, both managers were sent off after they exchanged a handshake outside their respective technical area. The gesture followed a hard foul by Julius James on Houston’s Dominic Oduro.
"I kind of gave him [Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear] a head's up, apologizing for the tackle,” D.C. head coach Ben Olsen told the Washington Post. “We went to shake hands. He came over towards me to shake hands, so I got thrown out. That's what happens when you shake hands."
"It's a travesty they were ejected -- ejected for sportsmanship," United President Kevin Payne was quoted as saying.
Olsen went as far as to suggest that referees should have press conferences to explain themselves. But it turns out there was more at play than meets the eye, according to Tamberino.
“The information I got from [the referees] is that the coaches were having words towards each other and they started to go towards each other,” Tamberino said. “That’s when the fourth official got involved. They were fairly close. Personnel got between them before anything happened.
“According to [the referees] it was more than just a friendly handshake. It was clearly out of the technical area, and the fourth official and assistant felt they were acting irresponsibly and had them sent off.”
Mystery PK at Rio Tinto
Tamberino was also very straightforward about the 87th-minute penalty kick call made by referee Ramon Hernandez in the Rocky Mountain grudge match between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids.
With Real Salt Lake down 1-0, Rapids defender Marvell Wynne was whistled for committing a handball in the box but after consulting the assistant referees, Hernandez changed his mind and instead awarded a drop ball.
Tamberino indicates that Hernandez did see a handball but was thrown off when the assistant referee he consulted told him “I have nothing.”
“The assistant referee means, ‘I don’t see anything and I have no info to overturn you,’” Tamberino said. “But the referee takes it that it’s not a hand ball. He’s also getting communication from the ref call system from the other officials saying they didn’t have a handball either and so he reverses his decision and gives a drop ball.
“Our instructions from U.S. Soccer is that, first of all, there is clear and precise communication between assistant referee and referee. Clearly it’s a hand ball.”