Sounders fans are talking today about the refereeing in yesterday's draw with Chicago, especially the two yellows referee Baldomero Toledo showed to Freddie Ljungberg.
Some exceptionally good facts and opinions are weaved into a couple of posts from blog contributors elmocatt and JoePublic.
So, I'm reproducing those here:
Comment from: elmocatt
Well, J Jr. hate to rain on your parade - but unfortuately that was a world class official out there on the field - at least in theory - in the sense that he has world class qualifications on paper. But as you saw, he did not put his world class paper qualfications to use today obviously.
Refs are qualfied to officiate different levels of matches, and you can tell what level by looking at the badge they have on their left breast pocket. Many MLS refs are just US soccer federation qualified - so only US matches (MLS, USL, etc). Today's guy had a white "FIFA" badge on his shirt, which means he is part of the very, very large pool of internationally qualfied referees (so he could ref a Gold Cup match, a world cup qualifying match, or whatever, involving not only MLS or USL matches, but also international teams in the US - such as the Barcelona match). It also means he is more experienced, and hopefully better, than the average US ref.
Having said all that, the ref did not do a good job today, and he certainly won't be able to use those paper FIFA credentials in any type of international soccer match anytime soon. No calls-up for him anytime soon to ref any international event.
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Comment from JoePublic
Elmo: Correct, as usual. The white badge = referee badass. But when you say "very, very large pool" I'm not sure what you mean. There are only six US men on the FIFA list: Baldomero Toledo (our man yesterday), Mark Geiger, Jair Marrufo, Alex Prus, Ricardo Salazar and Terry Vaughn. Select company.
In Italy the newspapers rate the referee performance in every Serie A match. In England the Premiership referees are all well-known to followers of the game, and supporters think they know what to expect when a guy they know is assigned to their team's game. All around the world referees are subject to intense scrutiny, and about the best that fans of teams will say is 'that guy doesn't (stink) too bad.'
Because when you come to this from the position of a fan of a team, you see it with your supporter's eyes. You are biased. You can't help but want the decisions to break your way. And if they don't, then the referee must be at fault. Or incompetent. Or stupid, or from Portland, or whatever.
Nobody was complaining when Baldomero Toledo sent Thorington off (except Thorington, of course). Freddie had to know he has a reputation for being a jerk with the refs, and that sooner or later, some ref was not going to put up with even the smallest amount of (grief) from him. A hairtrigger is not a good quality in a referee; on the other hand, I don't know if Freddie had been in Baldo's earhole the whole game long up to that point.
My take: Enough fans dislike diving to the degree that I like the idea of trying to control it. And I do think Ljungberg milked it. However, I would have simply let the game play on at that point. If you're only going to card one dive over 90 minutes, it has to be different enough from all the others to justify the card. This one seemed unfortunately routine by world soccer standards.
That said, the second yellow almost had to be shown. Too much public display too much in the ref's face.