The New York Red Bulls general manager took a shot at the level of officiating in MLS after Sunday night's controversial 3-3 draw against the Portland Timbers.New York Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler released a statement delivering a strong criticism of Major League Soccer officials on Monday morning and called for MLS and the USSF to address the quality of officiating in the United States.
"We have carefully reviewed the film of our match against Portland last night and I can safely say that the level of refereeing was absolutely below the standards of what is required for a MLS match and completely unacceptable," Soler commented.
His comments came after Sunday evening's controversial 3-3 draw on the road against the Portland Timbers in which referee Ricardo Salazar awarded two penalties and showed Red Bulls designated player Thierry Henry a red card for a late off the ball incident.
"First, the red card given to Thierry Henry was inexplicable. There was no violent conduct on his part whatsoever and this decision was made by a linesman who was more than half a field away," he said of Henry's 93rd minute red card just minutes prior to New York's equalizer from the penalty spot.
"Second, in any soccer game, there is no way that one team can draw 20 more fouls than the other team, especially in a match where one team drew just five fouls," he continued. "I have never seen this occur in my 30 years in the game."
The Timbers were adjugded to have committed just five fouls over the course of the game, and Timbers midfielder Adam Moffat was shown a yellow card for his involvement in the same incident that saw Henry shown red. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, racked up 25 fouls and four yellow cards, including two in the late stages of the game for dissent.
Soler demonstrated himself as supportive of efforts by MLS and the USSF to improve the standard of refereeing in the country, but insisted that the level of officiating in MLS has a tangible impact on the quality of play.
"We are aware that U.S. Soccer and MLS are working hard to improve the officiating in this country and we support those efforts wholeheartedly," he explained. "However, if we want to continue increasing the level of play, we cannot let these types of refereeing performances occur."
Soler also indicated that the team would seek to appeal Henry's automatic one-game suspension for his red card, concluding, "We look forward to speaking with the League to appeal Thierry’s automatic red card suspension and expect that it will be rescinded so that he is available for our match Thursday in Seattle."
MLS has not taken kindly to criticism of its officials in the recent past. Most recently, Timbers head coach John Spencer had to watch the Red Bulls game from the stands after being handed a one-game suspension and being fined $2,500 by MLS for his criticism of officials following his team's 1-0 home loss to the Colorado Rapids on June 11.
While Soler's position as general manager will make it difficult for MLS to issue any sort of suspension, if his comments are treated anything like Spencer's, a fine would be the likely outcome.
Follow Goal.com on to get the latest soccer news directly. Check out Goal.com's page; be part of the best soccer fan community in the world!