New York Red Bulls' boss Jesse Marsch hammers referee after derby defeat

NEW YORK – Jesse Marsch has been outspoken about Major League Soccer referees, but the New York Red Bulls coach has been relatively quiet this year. 

That is until Sunday, when he was highly critical of veteran referee Baldomero Toledo following the Red Bulls' 3-2 loss to New York City FC Sunday at Yankee Stadium. 

“I’ll say this, I haven’t talked about the ref one time this year,” Marsch said. “I’m not making excuses, I give New York City credit, OK. But I’ve been on my best behavior from the referee perspective this year. But this one was too much to swallow.”

Marsch said his biggest gripes weren’t in the game’s decisive moments, but rather the way Toledo handled the tenor of the match. Naturally, he alluded to the implementation of Video Review in matches across the league that began this weekend.

“VAR can’t correct the inability to see a game clearly and make all the little plays right,” Marsch said. “It can help with the big plays, but then we need refs who understand how to ref the rest of the game because there’s more to the game than just the moments that lead to goals. I felt it was hard to gain momentum within the match when every time a guy goes down for them or a soft foul, they get a call. It makes it difficult.”

In a game that had 40 fouls called, 25 were against the Red Bulls. While those numbers don’t appear too skewed, Marsch said Toledo’s calls were based on who led at the time.

“I though the referee reffed the score,” March said. “All of a sudden we started to get some calls when we went down a goal, but in the meantime literally so many soft fouls going for them, so many little things that they wind up getting an edge on.”

Late in the second half Toledo went to the sideline to have a conversation with Marsch, though it appeared to be an amicable discussion.

“That’s when I was just asking him to kind of see if he could find a way to balance out the calls, figure out a way to call it both ways,” Marsch said. “Did we hug? It felt like a special moment.”

Marsch did give credit to David Villa, who netted a hat trick to lead NYCFC to its second consecutive win over the Red Bulls, and lauded Bradley Wright-Phillips for his brace in what was a classic battle between two of the league’s top scorers. Wright-Phillips now has 10 goals in the eight derby matches and had the Red Bulls up 2-1 in the 64th minute.

“Bradley’s our version of David Villa. Two great goals from him,” Marsch said. “He loves these games. I don’t know if it’s from watching his dad grow up, but for whatever reason he really relishes the big stage and the big moments in these big games. If you go through the history of this series, he’s been the best player over the two-and-a-half years.”

Despite the loss, Marsch said the Red Bulls, who came into the weekend on a four-game winning streak, are still “moving this thing in the right direction.”

But that doesn’t dull the pain of Sunday’s defeat. 

“We had great support from our fans and when you have to look up there at the end of the game, you feel guilty and disappointed that you didn’t do more for your fans to celebrate. Especially when it was right there for us,” Marsch said. “This is what this sport is and this is what great rivalries are. It’s a crappy feeling, that’s for sure, right now.”