The pivotal moment of Real Salt Lake's 1-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday came in the 20th minute, as RSL forward Corey Baird fell to the ground as he dribbled into the box with Whitecaps defender Jake Nerwinski closing in on him.
Referee Drew Fischer awarded the home side a penalty, coolly converted by RSL's Albert Rusnak, and that was the difference in the match between Western Conference foes.
Vancouver felt hard done by the penalty call after replays raised questions about the level of contact. Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos made his case by urging everyone to take a look at the tape.
“It’s tough because I have three kids and I don’t want to spend money because I say stupid things," Dos Santos began. "I’ll just say watch it. Everybody watch it. It’s unfortunate because Jake did a foul against Minnesota [in Week 1] and it was a penalty shot. The foul of Jake against Minnesota was a clear penalty shot.
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"This one? Just watch it. Everybody should watch and then everybody should form their opinion.”
Alex Vejar of The Salt Lake Tribune asked Fischer about the incident following the match, and was told "the VAR indicated that the check was complete and the penalty kick was confirmed."
I acted as pool reporter for the #RSL game and asked the referees about the penalty kick that was upheld. Here is the response I got:— Alex Vejar (@AlexVReporting) March 10, 2019
“The VAR indicated that the check was complete and the penalty kick was confirmed.”
Baird insisted after the game that he had been fouled.
"I was able to get a touch in front of their outside back and he brought me down,” he told reporters.
“I saw Corey get played through and then he fell down," manager Mike Petke said in his postgame press conference. "And then the whistle was blown. That’s what I saw from a distance. I have not re-watched it yet, but I know that he went through and everything was checked out. It was a good buildup from us though."
Saturday's result gives RSL four points through two matches of the season (1W-0L-1D), while the Whitecaps drop to 0W-2L-0D as Dos Santos still seeks his first point as an MLS head coach.