CARSON, Calif. – Coming into MLS Cup, many observers believed the Houston Dynamo would benefit from the permissive officiating style of referee Silviu Petrescu.
Ironically, three key calls by the officiating crew did the Dynamo in during their 3-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on Saturday night.
First, the Galaxy's 60th-minute 1-1 equalizer came on a follow-up to a corner kick that Houston say never should have been called in the first place.
WATCH: Clark hand ball leads to PK
“It’s a clear header by the other team,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “It’s frustrating because it’s close to the linesman and the referee both miss it ... it doesn’t matter. You have to roll with the punches."
Added defender Bobby Boswell: “I never blame the referee, but, to keep giving them that stuff it sucks. You give them the ball in good spots and they have good service, and you’re going to pay for it.”
The go-ahead goal for LA came on a 65th-minute Landon Donovan penalty kick, which was called for a hand ball offense committed by Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark, who lunged to block a bicycle kick by Mike Magee and a follow-up shot from Robbie Keane.
"It definitely wasn’t voluntary," Clark said. "But I’ll definitely look at it again and hope to have a different viewpoint.”
The Galaxy then closed out their scoring in stoppage time on a Keane penalty kick after he was judged to have been tripped up by Hall in the box.
WATCH: Keane draws, scores PK
"I do think that Tally Hall touched the ball before Robbie Keane went down," said manager Dominic Kinnear, who admitted he hadn't seen replays of the two spot kicks called against his team. "That was my view on the second one."
“I did touch it before,” Hall said. “I know there was contact but the referee can’t see everything. I would have loved for him to be right there to see me touch it. But to him I’m sure it looked like I just clobbered Keane.
"And if I hadn’t touched it I think it would have been a fair shout for a penalty, but because I get something on it, I think I’m probably OK there.”
The Dynamo were adamant that Petrescu’s decisions were not the decisive factor in the match, but they did contribute to Houston’s downfall. And it was not totally unexpected.
“We said at halftime that was going to happen,” Boswell said. “We said we knew they were going to get calls and the crowd was going to get into it. We tried to keep our heads and it’s tough.”
Added Hall: "To come in here and say we lost because of the referees is a mistake. It’s our job to get it done and it didn’t go our way today..”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.