Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes has again hit out MLS refereeing in the wake of his side’s 4-0 thrashing against LAFC.
For the second time in three games, SKC were on the receiving end of a red card with Roger Espinoza getting his marching orders in the 58th minute for grabbing Cristian Arango’s shirt and stepping on his ankle. A VAR review deemed this an intentional act, thus worthy of a dismissal.
This comes just a couple of weeks after Remi Walter was sent off for bringing down Emmanuel Reynoso during SKC’s 0-0 draw with rivals Minnesota United. The challenge looked high, though Walter also appeared to be trying to back out.
Vermes accused referee Marcos de Oliveira of showing a “lack of respect” toward his players in a passionate post-match press conference.
Drew Fischer was the man in the middle on Friday and this time, Vermes accused him of showing a red card based on his pre-conceived judgement of Espinoza, adamant the stamp on Arango’s leg was accidental.
“It’s profiling, simple as can be. It’s profiling. That’s all I can tell you,” Vermes told reporters after the match. “Because it’s Roger Espinoza, he gets a red card.
“I’ve watched it. If you watch and you know the game, you understand that it’s accidental contact. He is stepping his foot and he actually goes underneath the other foot and when his foot comes down, it steps on the back of his leg. He doesn’t mean to do it. He’s not even looking. He’s getting his feet under him. He just ran 60 yards to return into the play and was slowing down. It’s not a red card.”
Just as he did following the Minnesota match, Vermes then accused MLS referees of coming down harder on SKC, while showing other sides preferential treatment.
He continued: “It is a red card because, when it comes to us, it is a red card. Just like when we were here last time and Khiry (Shelton) gets hit by their goalkeeper where he has to go to the hospital the next day (and the discipline) winds up being nothing. It’s looked at the next day and everybody is okay with it. Everybody thinks it’s fine.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Last game, our guy is pulling his leg away from a guy. He gets a red card. Our guy gets clotheslined around the neck in (Alan) Pulido and what happens? Not a red card.
“It’s okay to do what you want to our guys, just like what happens on the second goal. Check the film at 59:25. After they have their free-kick, we block it out. Khiry goes up for a header. Latif Blessing jumps all over him. (Khiry) heads the ball. He wins it. He goes for the next ball, wins it.
“The other guy falls down and we get called for a foul. If there’s anything, it’s a foul against them. Consequently, they then score on the free-kick. Do we have to defend better on the free-kick? Sure we do. But that (should) never happen.
“We’re down a man and all those other things happen thereafter. Okay, we lost the game. They played well. I can accept that. I can accept that we’re going to get beat sometimes. But in these circumstances week after week, it’s just incredibly frustrating. The players every week have to deal with the same thing. I don’t have any words anymore.
“The fact that Roger gets the red card and then the foul comes thereafter, I’m amazed. We go through this week in and week out. Our guys get looked at and then there’s no foul. And then I get the ceremonial, ‘Yeah, we agree with the call.’ Then this week, ‘We agree with the call.’ And then next week, ‘We agree with the call.’
“But when you compare all these calls, they’re all different. There’s no consistency. I’m incredibly, incredibly, incredibly frustrated for the team and for the players for the work that they do every day. That’s what frustrates me the most.”
Despite Friday’s defeat, SKC remain third in the Western Conference, just two points adrift of leaders Seattle Sounders. Vermes’ men face Chicago Fire next, though they’ll do so without the influential Espinoza.