The New York Red Bull‘s exhilarating 4-3 win over Real Salt Lake can be perceived in two contrasting ways, as it’s key events unfolded to evoke strong emotions for those watching.
My initial reaction was that it was a truly great advert for the MLS. It displayed a relentless tempo that lasted for the majority of the game, climaxing to a sensational last 10 minutes.
Question marks are frequently placed on the league’s entertainment factor, not just by those who follow Soccer, but also those Americans who are more fond of other sports. But this was a clear example of what Soccer can produce, unexpected twists and turns after a tense battle where the events eventually proved to be extremely interesting, in contrast to a simple point on the board.
But I quickly recognized that there was a quite disappointing and frustrating factor in the game that would have been felt even more for supporting viewers of the two franchises.
That is because the officiating was of a really poor standard. The game was right up there for it’s entertainment value, but sadly a lot of that arose due to the rather precarious decisions. Referee Silviu Petrescu had awarded just seven penalties in his last 67 matches before Saturday’s fixture. But he fell for one of the most universally despised terms in Soccer–diving.
Diving is never fun too see and it was a real shame to see a very exciting game tainted by these cheap and irritating attempts at play acting; as we all now know, at least two of those three penalties probably shouldn’t have been awarded. Take nothing away from the clinical finishing of Dax McCarty in the final minute, but the referee played a part in turning the game on it’s head, despite clearly not intending to.
But the players certainly never helped him. 46 fouls were awarded and it is a shame for the MLS that there was diving, some petty displays of dissent and needless fouls to ruin an otherwise very bizarre yet exciting game.
Having said that, I return to my original point and must reiterate the quality that on show was very promising. From Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill‘s link up for the first goal, to the great goalkeeping of Jeff Attinella, the game showed those around the world watching once again, that the MLS has real talent and should be taken seriously.