After 90 chippy minutes filled with fouls, a number of appearances from the stretcher crew, and a 2-1 win over Árabe Unido in CONCACAF Champions League play, Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear called for the referees in the regional tournament to be held to stricter scrutiny.
The Dynamo were on the receiving end of 12 fouls from their Panamanian foes and faced countless other confrontations that disrupted the general flow of the game, several of which left his players clutching various body parts.
Afterwards, Kinnear was happy that his club pulled out a victory, thanks in large part to a brace from Cam Weaver, but made it clear that the refereeing should be held to a higher standard.
“As far as the refereeing goes, as far as this tournament goes, I think these guys should be assessed and if they fail their assessment, whoever the assessor is, they shouldn’t get games anymore,” Kinnear said. “We’ve seen a lot of retreads in this tournament and the performances don’t change."
Kinnear’s comments were a general statement, but referee Hugo Cruz’s performance on the night certainly seems to fit Kinnear's bill. The first half was filled with tough challenges but all 22 players escaped without a caution. The second half was a different story as Cruz handed out seven yellow cards, four to Dynamo players, in a half with a similar style of play to the first.
Making matters worse was an Árabe Unido outfit intent on slowing the game down at every turn.
“They were trying to disrupt the game as best they could,” Kinnear said. “I’m just glad we won the game. I think we deserved it and I think it showed that the team that had more respect for the game won the game.”
The uneven nature of the officiating coupled with a continued need for medical treatment made for a game that had little flow to its play, but got the job done for Houston.
“The stretcher crew, I think, was participating in the Cross-Fit games and had a lot of action. I hope they were well hydrated,” goalkeeper Tally Hall quipped. “I’ve never seen them used so much and the medical staff from Árabe Unido must get a thumbs-up because when they came off the field they were able to heal their players very quickly and they were able to get back on the field extremely fast.
“We’ve done this tournament enough that we know we’re going to see different types of soccer,” Hall added. “It’s frustrating for 90 minutes when you’re playing a different style and it rubs you the wrong way, but in the end that’s what makes this tournament special.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.