Good Monday morning Caps fans and welcome to the first column of August. The date means cooler days, a return to BC Place and a new look lineup for our favorite team.
As I write this, I am watching the Gold Cup final and remarking on how the tournament (like summer as a whole) has zoomed by. Perhaps fitting for a tournament in which Mexico underachieved, I was pleasantly surprised the U.S. B team was able to nab a win and give me genuine optimism for the World Cup Qualifying matches in the fall — hope which I’m sure will be crushed within a matter of games.
It is time, however, for our attention to shift back towards MLS, which is chaotic as usual and set to only be getting even more so with a rash of intriguing summer signings (including a certain number 10 for the Caps).
And if you want to be sure that #teamchaos is winning in MLS, look no further than the last two minutes of stoppage time in the Caps/Minnesota United clash on Saturday night. The now infamous DajomePenaltyGate has spawned a whole new “PRO should all be summarily dispatched to referee semi-pro games for the rest of eternity” narrative among MLS fans.
This column is going to be less substantial than usual simply because I have to get all this off my chest.
Yes, the call from Lukask Szpala was an absolutely mystifying one (if you watched the clip absent context you could be forgiven for thinking that Dajome was the one who hacked down Ethan Finlay to concede the penalty). Yes, it was wrong. Yes, Minnesota United fans are right to be livid.
But the response from neutral fans has been almost comically apocalyptic, that the call was all time howler and an indictment that MLS has the worst refs in world soccer. Heck, if there were refs on Mars, this group would probably be making claims that we are intergalactically inferior as well.
It is almost as if everyone forgot the almost weekly discussions of how bad the referees are in the English Premier League. Or the refereeing debacles in the Gold Cup (though I’m sure there are some Canadian fans who have not let those slip). To put it mildly, all leagues complain about their refs and all leagues have catastrophic errors that VAR (apparently) have not yet been able to eliminate.
Officiating any sport is a pretty thankless endeavor. And the U.S. has a pretty nascent infrastructure to attract, retain and improve their referees. To PRO’s credit, improvement has been a pretty clear priority and the quality of officiating, in my opinion, has in fact improved in recent years.
I’m not trying to be an apologist here, nor am I trying to convince anyone of anything. Bad calls suck, especially when games turn on them. But the next time you’re tempted to call for an official to be demoted to officiating Alaskan high school games, remember that training, rather than tweets, is probably what is going to get us to a place where Cristian Dajome scissor kicking an opposing player isn’t deemed to be a penalty ... for the Caps.
Shameless Self Promotion
We have the details from Saturday night’s game if you missed any of the (fairly mundane) details. Peep the report card and match recap. Also now that Ryan Gauld is officially a Caps player, it is worth recalling our deep dive on the Scot.
Best of the Rest
Fair play to the Canada Women’s National Team for besting the U.S. 1-0 this morning in Tokyo, setting up a shot at the gold medal.
Adrian Heath probably wouldn’t agree with the above column...
Pacific FC are in good form ahead of their Voyageurs Cup clash with the Caps in a couple weeks
Multiple European offers have come in for Tajon Buchanan, Bruce Arena confirms