CHESTER, Pa. -- John Hackworth is not happy with MLS officiating and he’s willing to take the fine to express it.
Following the Union’s chaotic 2-2 draw against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday at PPL Park (see game story), the Union manager went on a rare tirade. Before being asked a question, Hackworth sat down, gritted his teeth and went off on red cards, hand balls and stoppage time.
“I’ll raise my hand and I’ll take the fine but it has to be said,” Hackworth said. “We cannot be in this league, have this level of play and have officiating be this bad. As bad as that.”
Hackworth’s primary issue came in a stoppage-time decision by lead referee Jorge Gonzalez, who ruled that a clear handball by Leonardo Gonzalez hit the player’s face, instead. Replay showed that it was a definite handball and should have led to a penalty kick. Instead, the Union settled for the draw.
“Having watch some replays from the last 10 minutes, it absolutely blew my mind,” said Hackworth. “Full credit to Seattle, they are a very good team but that should not have ended in a draw. There’s a clear penalty at the end of the game and how it’s not called is beyond me. There were so many parts to that game that were mismanaged by the officials. I don’t even know what to say.”
“It’s not just one play, forget that we should have a penalty kick on the clearest handball you can see on video,” he said. “It was bizarre and it can’t happen in this league. I’m going to make a bold statement and that should not be allowed. That guy has come here before and done the exact same thing.”
On top of that, having lost defender Sheanon Williams to a red card in the 84th minute added to Hackworth’s fury. Though Williams and Sounders’ Lamar Neagle did get into a heated shoving match, Gonzalez said the two headbutted each other, which was denied by Williams.
“I don’t know how Sheanon gets a red card,” Hackworth said. “It’s bizarre.”
But the questionable decisions continued for Gonzalez after the 90th minute. With three red cards, three goals and six substitutions coming in the second half, Hackworth swore there would be more than three minutes of stoppage time. With the Union pressing on the man-advantage, thanks to a red card to Sounders’ Djimi Traore, Gonzalez blew the whistle and ended the game.
“I don’t know how there’s three minutes of injury time,” Hackworth said. “It looked like three minutes giving out red cards, alone. There were three goals scored and six subs. There were a lot of little decisions.”