CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy firmly believe referee Allen Chapman got it wrong when he sent off Efrain Alvarez late in a 4-0 loss Saturday night in Portland, but they've not decided whether to appeal the decision or live with the teen phenom's one-game ban.
Alvarez was red-carded in the 83rd minute after booting a loose ball into the face of a falling Marvin Loria near the midfield stripe and is set to miss Saturday's clash (5 PM ET | FOX, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada) against Atlanta United. Chapman considered it an intentional infraction, but the Galaxy think the narrative is very different.
Now they need to decide whether they have a case that would convince Major League Soccer's Disciplinary Committee.
“In my opinion, it's harsh,” LA Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese told MLSsoccer.com after the club trained Tuesday at Dignity Health Sports Park. “Also because, obviously, the referee blows the whistle afterwards.”
That's the trigger to the Galaxy's argument, that the ball was still in play and Alvarez was playing the ball as Loria tumbled to the turf following a foul — that Chapman was about the call — by Sebastian Lletget.
“I think he saw the player from Portland came in to fight for the ball, and he tried to do something more, and the whistle was after the play,” Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. “So I think the referee make a mistake.”
Lletget understands Chapman's perspective, but said it would be completely out of character for Alvarez, who turned 17 last month, to intentionally kick the ball at Loria's head.
“Efra's a young kid, and it's also a learning curve. He's a good kid,” Lletget said. “There's no way I've seen him mean to do something like that. My argument to the ref is if I save the shot from the goal line and I put my head down and it hits me in the head, you're not going to give the guy that shot a yellow card. The ball's in play.
“If the referee has already called the foul and Efra sees the ball and just smacks it, I would kick Efra out. I would say, 'Get the hell out of here.' But that wasn't the case. So that was my argument, and [Chapman] said that he thought that Efra knew what he was doing and that it was intentional.”
On Monday, Alvarez, in Orlando for Tuesday's MLS Homegrown Game as part of MLS All-Star Week, said he “thought the guy was going to come in hard, so I just went in hard to protect myself. I hope MLS takes it away, because I didn't mean to do that.”
The biggest obstacle to an appeal might be how Alvarez handled the situation. He was approaching the ball just as Loria, whom Lletget clipped, was falling, and he steps up and smashes it in the direction of the Galaxy net. He has space behind, in Timbers territory, and could have taken the ball with a turn and led a counterattack.
The decision whether to appeal likely will be made Wednesday.
“I need to talk to Dennis, but we are waiting for the report [from the league], and then maybe we can do something,” Schelotto said. “But [perhaps we look at it as he's out for] maybe one game, and he can learn [from] that.”
Te Kloese said the Galaxy braintrust must “get our head around it and then see if it makes sense speaking to the league.”
“If it's a clear case, we'll analyze it and make the appeal,” he said. “If it's not a clear case, if there's some doubt about how the interpretation of the play could be laid out from both sides — from our side and from the league and referee's side — then, obviously, no.
“It's always interpretation. I think like anything, we will interpret in our favor and anybody else will interpret against our favor. It's fine. It needs to be a clear case. It needs to be according to the rules. It needs to be a transparent case to be able to appeal.”