Carson, CA. – LA Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid laughed when he was asked if he expected to be fined for criticism levied toward Major League Soccer’s video assistant referee (VAR) system and the on-field officiating following last weekend’s 3-2 loss to New York Red Bulls.
The Galaxy had two goals called back on replay – one correctly and the other one questionable at best, along with the failure to overturn a dubious decision that led to a game-winning penalty kick – and resulted in a post-game storm of protest. Schmid was quoted as saying the officiating was “awful,” but goalkeeper David Bingham used even harsher terms regarding those handling VAR responsibilities.
“If that’s the case they shouldn’t ref another game this year,” he told reporters. “That’s just incompetence.”
Schmid said after training Wednesday he had not yet heard about any potential penalties from the league office.
“I don’t know,” he said with a grin. “I can’t speak for David. He’s wealthier than I am.”
Schmid then took the time to explain the position he took after last Saturday’s game.
“I think just for clarity,” he said, “it’s not necessarily VAR that is the issue for me. VAR is only going to overturn something when it’s clear and obvious, that there was an error made. My issue is more of the consistency of the calls by the assistant referee.
“Obviously I’ve had discussions with the league and talked about that,” he went on. “The idea about VAR is to make sure we get the big calls right. I think it’s still a positive thing. When you look at their second goal and when you look at our Ibrahimovic goal, on both of those it wasn’t clear and obvious when you look at the replay. But in one case the linesman kept the flag down and in the other case, the linesman raised the flag.
“That’s where there’s just got to be consistency.”
Last Saturday’s game marked the return of central defender Michael Ciani, who made his first appearance since suffering a strained groin after going 44 minutes during a 2-1 loss at New York City FC on March 11.
Ciani went the full 90 minutes and, aside from cramping late in the game, said he felt fine.
“I was tired after the game, but it was a good tired,” the 34-year-old said with a laugh. “Now I have had a good two days to recover, and so far so good.”
Ciani, who joined the five-time MLS Cup champions last September after a European career that included stints in France’s Ligue 1, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A, said he wasn’t surprised he went the distance. He said he put in some good training for the last three weeks and felt well-prepared.
“I spoke with the coach (Schmid) and told him I was ready to play,” he said. “He just put me on the field and I gave my best.”
He admitted he was miserable not being able to contribute.
“It’s never easy being on the bench,” he said. “I was waiting for my turn. I’m competitive … I like to play. I want to play. When you are hurt, when you are off the field, it’s always difficult.”
Schmid said he was pleased with the Frenchman’s performance.
“I thought he was good, I thought he was aggressive,” Schmid said. “I thought his fitness might have hurt him a little bit because it’s been a while since he’s played a game, but his dominance in the air was something that was a positive for us, just his physical nature there.
“Sometimes I don’t know if we’re aggressive enough as a whole defensively. Him helping us in that regard was important.”
Right back Rolf Feltscher underwent successful surgery to repair the pectoralis major tendon in his right shoulder earlier this week and was confident he could return sooner than what could be a four-month recovery.
The Venezuelan international, who joined the club last December and made seven appearances/starts this season, was hurt in a freak training accident a week ago. He said he was attempting a tackle when he lost his balance with his right arm extended behind him and fell. He said he and his nearby teammates heard a loud crack when he hit the ground.
“It was a weird scene, I would say,” he said. “I tried to give everything and then this happens. It’s football, you know?”
If there was any good news it was that Feltscher, whose right arm is in a sling, can maintain his fitness.
“The good thing is I can keep the power in my legs,” he said. “So when I start again I don’t have to start from zero. I can start immediately with the team and I think that’s great.”
Feltscher, one of the Galaxy’s more upbeat players, couldn’t resist joking about his injury.
“This is like a typical Ibra sentence,” he said with a grin about the quotable Swedish international. “Animals recover faster than humans, you know? If he’s a lion, I’m a tiger. I hope I recover faster.”