In an interview with ESPN FC yesterday, Peter Walton, head of the Professional Referees Organization (or PRO), admitted that the New York Red Bulls should have had two penalties called in their game against the L.A. Galaxy.
Walton, a former English Premier League official, stated in the interview that head official Hilario Grajeda and his team missed both of the Red Bulls' potential penalty calls in the dying moments of the game.
First, Brian Rowe charged out to collect a through-ball from Mike Grella only to bundle into Alex Muyl, taking him down and getting none of the ball in the process. Hilario Grajeda waved play on.
Muyl goes down. No call. pic.twitter.com/gzXn280rID— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) August 8, 2016
Then, again in the 90th minute, as the game was tied 2-2 due to an offsides Ashley Cole goal, Gonzalo Véron received the ball from a series ticky-tacky flicks between Sacha Klejstan and Mike Grella. Véron took the ball towards goal as Rowe came out to confront him. Véron touched the ball around Rowe as the goalie slammed into his legs, taking him out, not touching the ball in the process. Hilario Grajeda waved play on again.
Veron goes down in the box. No call. pic.twitter.com/5FsEdEmHcY— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) August 8, 2016
Walton then adds Veron also deserved PK but only "when you look at it in slow motion."— Steve Cangialosi (@CangyManMSG) August 8, 2016
And so New York ended the game in Los Angles 2-2, despite the fact that the score should have been 4-2, possibly 4-3, had Hilario Grajeda done his job correctly.
Jesse Marsch was ejected from the game after the second incident, incensed at the officiating throughout the game. However, in his postgame press conference, he was just exasperated, "It's really hard to swallow because I've got a group of players that are confused. Because I think we're all having a hard time understanding how this is happening and why."
Now with Walton admitting on television that Grajeda got it wrong, twice, Marsch can at least feel some vindication, though one doubts that makes up for the two points lost due to the errors.
Walton stated later in the interview that, "It's not as easy as people make it out to be," as he tried to defend his organization while the hosts continued to be critical of PRO's performance, especially the display Sunday. He added, "We haven't got a credibility (issue) to fix, there's nothing broken at the moment. What we've got is, we've got a clear expectation level from the public, and from the players and managers, about raising our standards, and out standards are raising. And so with that, the expectation level raises as well... Our credibility is down at the moment."
Finally, Walton professed an optimistic outlook towards the future, "We've got a good crop of referees at the moment and a very good crop of young referees coming through the system." Red Bulls fans are optimistic too, Peter. Optimistic they will not see a refereeing performance that atrocious again for a very long time.