MLS admits Impact were wrongly denied two penalty kicks

Nelsen Rodriguez of MLS told Montreal newspaper Journal de Montreal that the Impact should have been given penalties against Vancouver and Houston.
MONTREAL -- Coach Marco Schällibaum and the Montreal Impact haven’t been at all happy with the officiating in their MLS games this season, and the league admitted to crucial errors in two of the team’s recent games.

In a phone interview with Journal de Montreal, Nelson Rodriguez, Major League Soccer's Executive Vice President of Competition, Technical and Game Operations, explained that the Impact were incorrectly denied penalty kicks in recent games against the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Houston Dynamo.

“We sympathize with the fans of the Montreal Impact organization, especially because those were two decisions in the space of three weeks which go against the team and which could have had the potential to change the game,” Rodriguez said. “And it comes at a time where, for the most part, these are six point games.

"It’s an unfortunate coincidence.”

The first incident occurred just before halftime against Vancouver in September.  With the Whitecaps up 1-0, a Patrice Bernier strike hit the arm of Whitecaps' defender Jun Marques Davidson. Referee Jorge Gonzalez signalled for a penalty kick in favour of the Impact, but then changed his mind after consulting with his linesmen and the fourth official.

Rodriguez explained that the Gonzalez should have stuck by his initial decision.

“It is our opinion at the competition committee that it was indeed a hand ball and that the penalty kick decision should have stood,” Rodriguez said.

The second error came just last week against the Dynamo. In the 69th minute, Davy Arnaud’s shot inside the Dynamo box struck the arm of Houston defender Bobby Boswell. The referee in charge, Drew Fischer, signalled for the play to continue as opposed to awarding a penalty for the Impact, which Rodriguez explained was what the Canadian referee should have done instead.

“For us it’s a handball and a penalty shot should have been attributed to the Impact,” Rodriguez said.

The Dynamo went on to win the game 1-0.

Rodriguez ensured that referees are constantly monitored and that they will eventually be penalized should they repeatedly not perform well.

“One performance does not lead to sanctions, but if there is a series of faulty performances, they can lose their assignments,” Rodriguez concluded.

With the race for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference being very tightly contested, these errors could very well be the difference between the Impact making the postseason for the first time or not.