Giovanni Savarese
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Giovanni Savarese critical of officials: Portland Timbers deserved at least 3-3 draw with LA Galaxy

Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese had some choice words for head referee Joseph Dickerson after his team’s 3-2 loss Wednesday evening at home against the LA Galaxy.

Put simply, Savarese felt the game’s key moments weren’t met with proper decisions by the officials.

“I thought that the referee was a disaster today, because it should have been at least 3-3 or there were other situations that I think he didn't have the level to what the match should have been,” Savarese said on the local broadcast after the final whistle. “Not taking anything away [from] the Galaxy, because they've done a great job, they played a great game, they scored their goals. Unfortunately today, I think we deserved more for what happened and I think the referee didn't give it to us.”

One controversial moment arose in the 80th minute, when forward Jeremy Ebobisse thought he made it 3-2 when nodding home a Yimmi Chara cross at the back post. But the offside flag went up, and the two-goal deficit remained intact. The call looked extremely close on TV replay, with both Galaxy outside backs making the threshold particularly tight. There needs to be evidence of a clear and obvious error for a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to flag a play for formal Video Review by the head official. 

Jeremy Ebobissie goal waved off

Portland ultimately made it 3-2 through Diego Valeri in the 92nd minute, a goal Savarese felt should’ve actually drawn his team level. An anecdote beyond the controversy, Valeri’s consolation strike vaulted him into the prestigious 80-goal, 80-assist MLS club.

“If the [Video Review] doesn't help, then it's difficult for the referees to make a decision,” Savarese said in his postgame press conference. “It's the one on top that has to make the decision, but also usually they keep on telling us that in moments that are very critical and close the flag shouldn't be up. 

“So I don't understand why the linesman leaves the flag up, when we hear all the time in moments that they are like three, four feet in offside, they don't lift it. The flag's up and I'm sure if it would've been that way, it would have stayed as a goal. I believe that [Video Review] was the only one making this decision and not the referee.”

Whatever the Timbers' gripes on the scoring end of the field might be, the team again showed to be error-prone on defense. They’re now 0W-2L-1D after the MLS is Back Tournament, allowing 10 combined goals across that three-game stretch.

Savarese also turned to a heavily-rotated starting XI against the Galaxy given the compressed schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the mileage his veterans logged en route to lifting the trophy in Orlando. Those like Sebastian Blanco, Chara, Ebobisse and Valeri certainly boosted Portland as second-half substitutes, but it wasn’t enough to deny LA their third straight victory and upward trajectory.

The Venezuelan manager praised his younger team, though also returned to what could have been. More clear-cut, Chara also had a goal waived off for offside in the 79th minute.

“I think with the team that we put in today, I was very pleased with the performance and at the end many of the guys that came in just came in with unbelievable attitudes,” Savarese said. “I think we deserved more. Definitely a goal that, I think, watching it, looks like it's definitely a goal. So I think definitely the result should've been at least 3-3."