ORLANDO, Fla. – It came completely out of the blue, but head coach Jason Kreis let it be known that he was angry, and not just with Orlando City's defensive failings in the 3-1 home defeat by Toronto FC Wednesday night.
The Lions head coach had almost finished his post-game thoughts on a bitterly disappointing outing against the clinical Reds, who enjoyed just 38.5 percent possession, but turned it into all three goals for deadly duo Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco.
But, while not excusing the frailties of his backline that conceded early in both halves, Kreis had sharp words for what he sees as refereeing inconsistencies against his men at home this season. The press conference had all but concluded when he insisted on having one final observation.
“I would like to say one more thing tonight and I’ve spent all season so far keeping my mouth closed about it,” he said. “But it is beginning to feel like in this stadium we have referees that will not make critical calls for us for whatever reason.
“It appears they are bending over backwards to show that they are not going to show any bias. Perhaps it’s due to us having a raucous crowd, but whatever it is, I’m tired of it. And I have to say tonight that we as a club, as a fan group, as a coaching staff, that we should not continue to stand for that. We go away, and we feel like the away team by the referees’ decisions on the 50-50 calls, and we come home and we still feel like the away team, and I think it’s unacceptable.”
Asked to clarify what he thought was happening inside the noisy confines of the new Orlando City Stadium, Kreis was not backing down.
“The only thing I can come up is one of two reasons,” he added. “Reason number one maybe because our crowd is so raucous and so vocal that referees feel a little intimidated. Or the second reason is that they don’t respect our team, because we haven’t made the playoffs, because we don’t have big enough players. Whatever it is, for me it has to stop. I just want things to be level and equal.”
The Orlando coach was especially upset by the foul count, which saw referee Alan Kelly ping the home team for 11 infringements compared to 7 for the visitors. He also pointed to the crucial free kick that Giovinco converted just two minutes after substitute Carlos Rivas had given the Lions a lifeline with his fourth goal of the season.
“The number of times we’ve had defenders draped all over Cyle [Larin] in the box, and he goes down, and we don’t get penalty kicks for that,” Kreis fumed. “The number of times we’ve had inadvertent handballs in the box that we don’t get calls for, but yet Ricky [Kaká] sticks his arm up a few games ago [against New York City] and gets a penalty called against him. It’s so many occasions now, that I just can’t bear it any more.
“The decision for the foul that Giovinco scores for the third goal tonight was absolutely ridiculous. There’s no chance that our player gets the same foul called. We saw it time and time again tonight where our players were in the exact same positions, fell over, and did not get that same call.”