Caleb Porter left frustrated by first-half call in Columbus Crew SC loss

WASHINGTON -- Before his postgame remarks following Columbus Crew SC’s 3-1 loss to D.C. United in Week 10, head coach Caleb Porter chuckled at the unusual size of the media throng awaiting them.

They were expecting a strong reaction to the calls that went against visiting Crew SC and they got it: Porter was critical of decisions made by referee Ted Unkel in the first half.

First, Unkel disallowed a Crew opening goal based on a foul assessed to Wil Trapp after Video Review. A few minutes later, D.C. scored a goal on a set-piece play that originated from a foul that Porter felt was incorrectly called.

Unkel also awarded a penalty to D.C. just before the break after ruling that Trapp handled the ball in the penalty area. Wayne Rooney's spot kick conversion left Porter's side with a 2-0 halftime deficit.

Porter’s gripe was mainly focused on the first decision to disallow a Crew goal by Pedro Santos in the 22nd minute. It was scored on a transition that began when D.C.'s Luciano Acosta lost the ball after the Argentine playmaker, Trapp and Unkel came together in midfield.

“Obviously we score a goal, and we all know what happened,” Porter said. “It’s a fair goal. 100 percent. Referee gets in the way, referee fouls Acosta. And then the referee goes and looks at the television to bail himself out. I’ve never in my life seen anything like that. Ever.”

Speaking amid a five-match losing skid, Porter said he received no direct explanation of the call from Unkel, though he heard one second-hand from his players.

“He told them, ‘I think that Wil fouled Acosta.’ Which didn’t happen,” Porter said. “It’s unbelievable, honestly. I don’t think this has ever happened. Where a referee literally gets in the way and then uses an excuse on [Video Review] to bail himself out for a goal that was scored.”

Porter expressed his frustration shortly after the incident during a halftime interview on the Columbus broadcast:

Unkel provided an explanation for the decision to a pool reporter following the match.

“No. 6 Trapp of Columbus commits a tripping foul against No. 10 Acosta of D.C. that is missed by the referee crew,” the explanation reads. “This foul started the attacking possession phase for Columbus that led to the goal.”

Porter, who was still the Portland Timbers coach when Video Review was first implemented midway through the 2017 season, made clear his displeasure was not with the Video Review process.

“I think the official botched the goal,” Porter said. “I think [Video Review] is great. I’ve been a huge proponent of it. I like it, I think it gets calls right. Clearly he botched the whole thing.”

Columbus will need to forget about the  and right their ship with a Wednesday match (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in the US, DAZN in Canada) looming against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy.

“We have to take care of business in the next game,” Porter said. “That’s the most important thing. And if we take care of business in the next game, and then the next game at home, this period will all be forgotten. I’m thinking today will be one of those moments that will galvanize my group.”

MLS Unites to VOTE

Join Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change, and the MLS Players Association in participating in the November 3 general election. In-person early voting has started in 44 states. Make a plan to vote.