In the aftermath of what he said was “one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen," Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop wasn’t sure what to say to his team.
“Now I gotta tell my guys ‘nice try, unlucky’, and what do I say next?” asked Yallop. “I’ve got nothing to say to them because the guys gave me everything they had; and the referees decide the game. Unacceptable, to be honest, unacceptable.”
- Match Recap: Controversial Le Toux penalty earns Union late draw
The call in question came with the Fire nursing a one-goal lead in the dying moments of Saturday night’s Eastern Conference clash against the Philadelphia Union. A half clearance from the Chicago defense fell to Union striker Sebastien Le Toux, who’s volley from the top of the box struck Fire defender Gonzalo Segares in the arm, which appeared to be flat against his chest.
Head ref Geoff Gamble thought otherwise, and whistled for the penalty.
"I don’t need to see a replay to know that’s not a PK," Segares said. "Hopefully the referee union will look at it and there will be a suspension for the ref, and we’ll move on."
Le Toux tucked home the ensuing penalty past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who couldn’t produce an identical penalty spot heroic to the one that secured last week’s win at New England.
The Fire, who were on the verge of collecting their second 1-0 victory in a row, and a second home win of the season, were instead left to wonder what could have been.
“It should have been a clean sheet,” Yallop said. “I thought the back four was excellent tonight. I thought they battled, they fought, they worked together. I thought we deserved to win the match.”
The solid defensive performances are coming at just the right time for the Fire, who despite the bitter result, have now lost only once in their last seven matches. Chicago now sit eighth in the East — three points out of fifth place and the final playoff spot — and can look forward to a mid-week test at Western Conference bottom feeders San Jose on Wednesday.
"It’s frustrating, it’s tough to swallow, but we have to keep moving forward and working hard," Segares said. "We’ve done well lately and we need to keep same intensity and the same tenacity that we’ve been showing the past couple of weeks.”