Chivas USA say "pretty soft" penalty in loss to Real Salt Lake changed course of game

A questionable penalty call and a red card tarnished Chivas USA’s last road game of the season, putting yet another damper on their highly disappointing season.

Veteran defender Bobby Burling was whistled for a shove in the penalty area to put the Goats in a hole heading into halftime, midfielder Marvin Chavez was later ejected for kicking the ball to an assistant referee and Chivas USA never recovered in a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night.

“We came to play a fair game against Real Salt Lake, a very good team at home,” head coach Wilmer Cabrera told reporters at Rio Tinto Stadium. “They were obviously going to have more possession than us, and sadly it was a very soft [penalty kick]. The referee saw some kind of foul.”

No other team has allowed more goals than the Rojiblancos’ 61 this year, but the one they conceded in the 36th minute on a penalty kick might have been the harshest.

“One call kind of changed the game there,” Burling told reporters. “Whether it was the right call or wrong call, it definitely changed the game at that point.”

Said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy: “The PK they got was pretty soft. Any team would be upset to have that PK called against them. That was a huge, huge moment in the game.”

Another pivotal moment came 11 minutes into the second half, when Chavez failed to keep a loose ball inbounds and kicked it toward the linesman following the whistle.

“I spoke with Marvin, and he said he tried to clear the ball,” Cabrera said. “Sadly, he mis-kicked it, and he hit the linesman with the ball. He didn’t mean it, but the referee interpreted that he was trying to hit him. I told Marvin he should go apologize to the linesman because he didn’t try to hit the referee. He’s not that type of person. He just tried to kick the ball away.”

Playing down a man for the remainder of the second half, Chivas USA was unsuccessful in their comeback attempt. Kyle Beckerman added a goal in the 74th minute to seal it. The Goats were outshot 16-4 and held only 25 percent of the possession, beginning their final week of the season with a whimper.

“They got the ball wide, and it definitely created some problems,” Kennedy said. “But if we don’t give up that PK, it would have been a very different game.”

Blair Angulo covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com.