When it came to assessing blame for their second consecutive league defeat, NYCFC coach Dome Torrent and his players were unanimous.
“We played a great game. It was our sixth game in two weeks and its a shame to lose the points because the ref had a horrible day today,” NYCFC captain Alex Ring said. “That’s what I think.”
Ring blasted referee Alan Kelly, not for overturning assistant referee Corey Rockwell’s decision to award the Red Bulls a corner kick on the play that led up to Danny Royer’s winning goal in the 60th minute, but for not having “the decency to let everyone know.”
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“I think it’s a game-deciding situation,” Ring said. “He has to look in the mirror and be brutally honest because he cost us the points today.”
On the controversial play in question, NYCFC players turned away after Rockwell pointed to the corner flag to prepare for a corner kick. Alex Muyl received the ball and quickly threw it into play. Eventually, Royer headed past Sean Johnson for his second goal of the game.
Johnson was incredulous when the goal was given. He told reporters in the locker room all Kelly said to him on the field was “it was a very difficult decision.” There was no follow-up after the final whistle or when Johnson asked again in the hallway that leads to both the visiting team and officials’ locker room.
In response to questions from a pool reporter, the officials said Kelly overturned the call “because the referee was in a better position to judge that the ball went out for a throw-in.”
There were no hand motions indicating the game would restart via a throw-in, rather it was “indicated verbally.”
Ring said he actually agreed it was a throw-in “because I saw it the same way as him.” But he debated that his team was told the call was changed.
“He doesn’t say anything,” Ring said. “He just let play continue as if he would be part of the Red Bulls team.’”
According to Torrent, Rockwell, who he said “wasn’t brave,” told defender Alex Callens it was a corner kick, even after pointing to the corner.
“He decided the game,” Torrent said of Kelly. “I said to him, you decide the game and you know that. You are not brave. You decide the game.”