Carson, CA. – LA Galaxy captain and left back Ashley Cole can sympathize with Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke.
Petke strongly criticized the officiating, including the use of the video assistant referee (VAR), in last Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Minnesota United. Petke was ejected by referee Alan Kelly early in the second half for arguing what he thought was a foul by Minnesota’s Darwin Quintero on RSL’s Justen Glad. The play was not reviewed by VAR and the coach kicked over a chair on his way off the field.
Cole, who will not play in Saturday’s match in Philadelphia (4 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes) after being assessed two yellow cards and subsequent ejection in last weekend’s 3-2 win over New England, even offered to pay Petke’s likely fine, but he said he has yet to hear from the coach.
Cole, you may remember, did pay the undisclosed fine assessed to Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham after Bingham blasted the officiating — and controversial use of VAR – in a 3-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls on April 28 at StubHub Center.
“I think he kind of apologized for his rant,” Cole said of Petke, “but sometimes people have to understand that we’re passionate about the sport, and things keep going wrong and people keep making the same mistakes.
“I’ve said before if you keep making the same mistakes as players, you don’t play. You have to kind of answer why you’re not playing well. I think for sure it should be the same for the referees. We understand it’s a hard job to pick things up straightaway, but now you have VAR and you really shouldn’t be making mistakes.
“I can see why he was frustrated,” Cole said of Petke. “I’ve been frustrated for a long time.”
Cole said it’s getting increasingly difficult staying diplomatic while discussing MLS officiating.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “Like anyone, if we have a bad day at the office we have to hold our hands up. They don’t. It’s just OK, another game for them, but it’s costing players suspensions and it’s costing teams points.
“It’s hard to take. We understand we have to take it, but sometimes I think they have to understand our frustration. We’re not shouting for no reason, there must be something going on why we’re shouting. All we’re saying is, ‘Did you not see this, did you not see that?’ In the Premier League, you can have a conversation with them (referees).
“This is the difference,” he went on. “They seem to feel you can’t talk to them. This is where the frustration comes from.”
GETTING IT RIGHT
It has been a season to remember, to say the least, for defender Dave Romney.
The 25-year-old from Irvine not only has had to learn a new position of right back (in place of the injured Rolf Feltscher), but he has experienced an unusual number of highs and lows.
Romney, for example, was called for a controversial handball – even though the ball left a welt on his back – during a 3-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls on April 28. He also suffered an own goal – that subsequently was called back by VAR — during a recent 4-0 victory over the Columbus Crew and he scored the tying goal in the Galaxy’s come-from-behind, 3-2 victory over New England last weekend.
“It felt great. It really did,” he said of the goal. “I just hit my spot on the set piece and luckily the ball went there and I just finished it off.”
Romney said his stint at right-back continues to be a work in progress – “I’m settling in a little bit, but I’m still not as comfortable as I would be on the left,” he pointed out – but he did admit the season has been a trying one on an emotional level.
“You get used to it, though,” he said. “You learn to kind of dull every moment out, where the losing isn’t as bad and the winning isn’t as good.
“Stuff in this industry changes like crazy. One minute you’re not starting, another minute you’re starting every game. You have really good games, you have bad games … I think you find success when you don’t let your emotions take control.”
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid’s side is on a six-game unbeaten run and has lost just once in the last nine matches (5-1-3), but the challenges never cease to exist for the five-time MLS Cup champions.
This weekend, for example, Schmid will have to make do without two of his most reliable defenders. He not only has to start a new left-back after Cole was ejected from last weekend’s win over New England, but midfielder Perry Kitchen will be unavailable because of yellow-card accumulation.
“It means we have to shift things around a little bit,” he said.
Help could be on the way, however. Servando Carrasco, for example, could replace Kitchen in the starting lineup and Romney could move over from the right side to the left, possibly providing an opportunity for recent signee Sheanon Williams to start at right back.
“Our midfield core has been a little bit depleted, and that’s maybe the hardest thing right now to deal with going into this game,” Schmid said. “The hard part is when you’re missing guys for four or five or six games, then it’s hard to find a new rhythm and replace guys.
“But it’s just a game or two here and there. It’s something where we have enough depth to deal with that.”