HARRISON, N.J. – Red in the face as he spoke at the podium during his postgame press conference, New York Red Bulls head coach Petke ripped into the officiating crew following his team’s 2-2 draw with Columbus at Red Bull Arena on Sunday.
He wasn’t only angry about referee Geoff Gamble’s decision to call a controversial second-half penalty on Kosuke Kimura for dragging down Justin Meram in the box, but also at linesmen Joe Fletcher and Eric Proctor, who he felt blew a few calls as well.
Petke was clear to say he wasn't laying blame for the result on the referees, but was adamant in stating that he believes officiating needing to improve in Major League Soccer.
“I have my checkbook out and I’m ready for MLS to fine me because it’s not good enough, the referees, it’s not good enough,” he said. “I watched the replay of the penalty of what I already knew to be not a penalty and it backed it up. [Meram] mis-hits the ball, mis-hits it, and then there’s contact from the side.
“In my estimation, [the referee is] a guy who’s probably getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend who wants to be a part of the show. That’s what it is to me. I could care less what the league fines me or what they say. Those decisions, those type of things, cost jobs and it goes to his partners on the sideline. Hand balls, fouls happen two feet in front of them and they don’t even see it. I’m pissed off.”
The Red Bulls head coach also said he did not have any discussions with the officials following the conclusion of the match.
“No conversations,” said Petke. “This new [Professional Referee Organization] wants us to [have] good relations with the referees but we’re forbidden from approaching them or having any contact with them.”
Red Bulls Designated Players Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill refrained from commenting on Gamble’s penalty kick call, but other players on the team did. Jámison Olave, who scored the equalizer near the death, also believed Meram misfired before feeling the contact from Kimura and falling to the ground.
“For me, it’s not a penalty kick,” said Olave. “For me, the Columbus player mis-hits the ball and momentum takes him down. Kosuke does come from behind, but the player could do nothing after missing the shot. In my opinion, it’s not a penalty kick.”
Gamble didn't agree with that assessment even after the match, maintaining that he made the right call.
“I had a clear view of the play,” the official told a pool reporter. “The defender pushed the attacker in the back, which is a penal offense, which then resulted in a penalty kick.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.