Following the Columbus Crew’s CONCACAF Champions League draw against CF Monterrey last week, head coach Caleb Porter did not hold back his feelings toward the officiating crew. Porter has now been issued a warning and a fine for an undisclosed fee.
The first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals at historic Crew, which ended 2-2 with Monterrey scoring a stoppage time equalizer, was filled with controversy. Despite 19 fouls for the visitors, Monterrey was shown only one yellow card in the match, while the Black & Gold, who were whistled for six fouls by center official Juan Gabriel Calderon, received two yellow cards. One of those cards was to midfielder Lucas Zelarayan for accidentally stepping on an opponent’s foot while dribbling, which will see him miss the second leg.
Additionally, Porter was upset with a no-call penalty kick when forward Gyasi Zardes was taken down by goalkeeper Luis Cardenas in the box, a goal that was called back after Video Assistant Review deemed it offside and a potential handball in the build-up play to Monterrey’s late equalizer.
Speaking in his postgame press conference, Porter did not hold back in his criticism of the officials:
The sad part is the officiating. And I know everybody hates it when coaches talk about the officials but it’s a joke. It’s a joke. How Lucas Zelarayan gets a yellow card, no idea. They had six, seven fouls worse than the foul he had and no card and he gets a yellow card. Somebody explain that to me. Somebody explain to me how Gyasi’s play where he gets cleaned out by the keeper is not a penalty kick and not even reviewed. Can someone explain to me, please explain to me, go back and watch the goal that we scored, watch it? How is that clear and obvious overturned offside? I watched it. Every angle. I paused it. I stopped. I always try to be objective in these moments. It’s not off. How do they overturn that call? And then at the end, there’s a clear handball on the sideline before they score a goal.
It’s a joke and it’s sad. It’s sad. When you have a team like our club that has desire and ambition, that wants to win this tournament and advance and facing off against another quality team and it’s tainted. It’s tainted by a VAR last-minute decision thrown out there, not organized, clearly. There’s no — you have a guy in the booth that’s never worked with the officiating crew. I knew right when they said that it was going to be thrown together last minute that it was going to be a disaster. How can they do that? Shame on CONCACAF for that. That is absolutely ridiculous. You have an American in the VAR booth who’s never worked with the officiating crew. There’s no understanding, there’s no relationship. And that’s the other sad part is that we get screwed on two calls, a penalty, clear, and an offside that’s not offside that we score a fair goal, and it’s by an American. What would happen in Mexico if you had a Mexican in the VAR booth? I think we all know. It’s ridiculous.
But I’ll close with, I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of the way we played, I love our aggressiveness and even though we didn’t get the win, I’m happy with what they did today and they deserve more and I’m sad for them. And I can’t sit up here and say nothing because I watched this tournament for years and years and years, I’ve watched this league for years and years and years and everybody talks about how no American team has beaten a Liga MX to win the tournament, blah, blah, blah. Why don’t they get the frickin officiating sorted out? What don’t they get that sorted out? You’ve got good teams competing in a tournament, why don’t they get the officiating sorted out? It’s a joke.
Porter then held a press conference the next day where he answered questions from local reporters, after not doing so the night before. In that press conference, Porter explained further his displeasure with the refereeing and did not back down from his heated comments the night prior.
On Tuesday, CONCACAF released the following statement to The Columbus Dispatch’s Jacob Myers after he inquired about the officiating after the match:
Following last week’s first leg Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League match between Columbus Crew and CF Monterrey, Columbus Crew Head Coach Caleb Porter made comments which were disrespectful towards the referees and the competition. They included calling into question the professionalism of the referees.
This matter has been considered by the Concacaf Disciplinary Committee and Mr. Porter has been fined and warned about his future conduct.
Concacaf understands that clubs and their officials sometimes disagree with refereeing decisions. However, disrespectful comments which question the professionalism of referees and the competition are unacceptable.
The Crew and Monterrey play the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday at Estadio BBVA. CONCACAF announced the officiating crews for this round on Tuesday. Below is the group that will be in charge of the Black & Gold and Rayados:
Referee: Daneon PARCHMENT (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Ojay DUHANEY (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Damian WILLIAMS (JAM)
Fourth Official: Oshane NATION (JAM)
VAR: Erick MIRANDA (MEX)
AVAR: Benjamin PINEDA (CRC)