MLS is a Joke Unless it Addresses Toledo

MLS has a major problem with Toledo.  No, not the city in Ohio but the referee Baldomero Toledo.  The MLS midweek game last night was excellent – it had drama, a touch of irony, and a late goal leading to a 1-1 draw between the Whitecaps and Revolution.  What the match didn’t have was 11 on 11; once again the referee intervened to alter the outcome of the game, almost from the outset.

Before we list Baldomero Toledo’s sins, let’s give credit to the two teams on the pitch tonight.  Days after scoring two stoppage time goals to draw even with Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver were victims of a little late magic themselves.  Ilija Stolica continued the Revolution’s knack for goal-scoring with a clinical goal (top shelf, to borrow the hockey phrase) two minutes into stoppage time to grab a late point.  The home team got their goal a man down in the 55th minute when Eric Hassli converted a penalty.  Hats off to New England, who despite missing three regulars including their starting keeper still got a road point and continue their near-miraculous start to the season.

But this match will forever be tainted by the suspect officiating of Toledo. Let’s review the major calls in this match to see just how bad he was last night:

  • Gershon Koffie received a red card in the first half for an elbow to the head of Pat Phelan.  Looking at the replay, it is inconclusive whether the elbow was intentional.  In fact, in a situation like that one (high ball where both players have to extend to head it) a flying elbow or two is almost unavoidable.  Toledo immediately reaches for the red however and sends Koffie off.  This is a terrible call; Vancouver in now a man down for an entire half for something that did not look to be intentional in any way.  Give him a yellow or a stern warning, but not a straight red.
  • Two minutes into the second half, Eric Hassli received a yellow card for another elbow to Kevin Alston.  This one is a little more understandable, as the referee has clearly shown any hint of an elbow will receive a card.  But again, looking at the play, it is not an intentional elbow.  Far from it, it looks more like a result of the play than Koffie’s, and does not deserve a card.  Poor decision again by the referee.
  • Now it is New England’s turn to be aggrieved.  An Attiba Harris pass at the edge of the box missed Camilo who was bumped by Zach Boggs.  Camilo fell and Toldeo signaled penalty immediately.  This was a travesty for two reasons.  First, Camilo had no play on the ball, it was to his left out of his reach and the contact in no way altered his ability to reach it.  Second, the contact was minimal and even if Camilo did not dive (which I am in no way accusing him of doing), the contact did not warrant a penalty.  As it was, the ‘Caps converted and were up 1-0.
  • The next controversial call came immediately after.  Hassli converts the penalty and immediately runs to the crowd to throw his jersey into the fan section.  But underneath his jersey was…another identical jersey.  In fact, he swapped his long sleeved shirt for a short sleeve.  No matter, taking off a jersey is an automatic yellow and, with it being his second, Hassli was sent off.  It was dumb by Hassli, but after an undeserved first yellow this really put Vancouver in bad spot: playing essentially 35 minutes with nine men.
  • But it would not be 11 on 9 the entire match.  In the 75th minute, A.J. Soares is red-carded on a tackle on Attiba Harris.  His studs weren’t up, he got a piece of the ball and the tackle could have been a foul and possibly a yellow card.  But Toledo, sensing it had been 20 minutes since he had gotten attention, brought out the trusty red card and sent the rookie to the showers.  The rest of the match was played 10 on 9.

Now all officials have bad games, we are human and it happens that in an event with highly-toned athletes at peak physical condition the pace of play is too fast to catch every foul correctly in real time.  We at home have the benefit of replay, which makes it easier to criticize, so we should give officials leeway.  But this is part of a disturbing trend for Mr. Toledo this season in MLS.

  • In Saturday’s Toronto-Chivas match, Maicon had a close goal ruled offsides, a goal that could have been the difference in the match.  Just like in last night’s match when a New England goal in the second half was incorrectly ruled offsides.
  • Two weeks ago it was DC United who was the victim of Toledo’s poor refereeing.  DCU was down two goals in the first twenty minutes when the Revolution were not penalized for a Schilawski handball which allowed him to gain possession and score; followed by a penalty given on Dax McCarty when he tried to clear a ball from the box and Pat Phelan ran into his leg.

Those offenses were minor compared to the ones last night.  While a referee should never be blamed for a team winning, losing, or drawing a match (save obvious and proven cheating), MLS needs to address his terrible officiating.  Everyone complains about the referees in the league, and this is a great chance to do something about it.  The league should suspend Toledo for a match to send a message that improving the referees is a priority and an issue they take seriously.

73 thoughts on “MLS is a Joke Unless it Addresses Toledo”

  1. The league can’t suspend Toledo because he nor any other refs are under the employ of the league. The league does not hire them. They are under the jurisdiction of the USSF.

    1. SF – Even if MLS can’t suspend him themselves, they can go chat with USSF and work out something. I seriously doubt if MLS wanted him suspended, USSF would just say “too bad”. So while they can’t do it directly, they can essentially do it.

      1. The fact that you fail to address this important distinction of who the officials work for and what the relationship is just underscores why you should not be taken seriously. While there may be agreement on Toledo’s performance, your ignorance of the realities surrounding officiating makes you impossible to take seriously.

      2. Hey, I just watched the Portland-Houston match on Oct. 14, where he
        let those elbows-to-the-face go and it changed the match, for the
        extreme worse. Looks like someone agreed with the awful critique in
        this article and now someone’s going to get hurt because apparently
        he’s trying to assess “intent” when a forearm shiver or shoulder
        block to the head (which wouldn’t even be allowed in hockey or the
        NFL, regardless of “intent”) is thrown. His swallowing of the
        whistle has degenerated some matches into plain awful soccer and
        may have influenced the result. I sure hope whatever unknown
        influencer changed Toledo’s style doesn’t also convince him that
        “getting a piece of the ball” means a tinker’s damn (because it
        doesn’t – perhaps the biggest myth in all of soccer). Hope you’re

  2. What I don’t understand is when he doesn’t see the foul he’ll still make a call. Most refs will decide not to make a call if they are unsure but this jaggoff always pulls the card out or gives the PK. It seems like he wants to ruin games by being bold with these decision. Fire is ass MLS.

  3. Also, on a couple of the calls: the ref had no choice at all on the second Hassli yellow. The laws are clear.

    On the Koffie call, I can see a yellow, but this is not the play I’ll be going to the mat for. That’s a stiff shot straight to the head. Yes ‘intent’ is inconclusive. . . but it will *always* be inconclusive because replays don’t show you inside people’s minds.

    > “In fact, in a situation like that one (high ball where both players have to extend to head it) a flying elbow or two is almost unavoidable.”

    No, it’s not unavoidable, because you don’t have to go up at all for a ball the other guy clearly has a better angle on. What is Koffie going get out of winning that ball? He’s completely out of control, it’s not like he can supply a good ball to a team-mate.

    Meanwhile, there’s a far bigger issue at play, that of guys’ careers getting ended and lives shortened by concussions. I have to ask myself, “if that play is a red card every time, am I upset?” and the answer is a resounding, “No!”

    1. because you don’t have to go up at all for a ball the other guy clearly has a better angle on
      Wha??? He had a perfectly good chance at getting the ball – in fact, he DID get the ball. No sport could be competetive if we simply stood aside everytime our opponent “had a better angle”, whatever that means.

      1. What I mean when I say that the other player has a better angle on the ball. . . is that he has the better angle on the ball! Koffie is not facing it. How is that concept difficult to understand?

        1. How was he “not facing the ball”? He ran straight towards it (as they both did), had his eyes on the ball (as they both did), and got there first. The whole point of sport is that you’re supposed to compete against each other, not just stand back and politely say “after you, kind sir, you appear to have the better angle”, “oh no no, I insist, good man: you first…”.

          1. You keep telling me where his eyes are, as if that were relevant at all to what I’m saying. I’m saying his BODY–you know, the part of him that will actually strike the ball, is out of control and at a 45 degree angle to where it would need to be to make some sort of play. The Rev player is actually trying to make a play, while the Whitecap is just flinging his body in the vicinity of the ball. And the point I was trying to make is that there is no point in doing that, nothing to be gained by making that play.

            Eyes mean nothing. You can’t execute a challenge with your eyes. And as to intent, if you think a pro soccer player that can dribble the ball without looking at it can’t hit a guy without looking at him, you’re the perfect sucker for these guys to exploit.

          2. How can you say his body is “out of control and at a 45 degree angle to where it needs to be to make the play“. He jumped for the ball in the same manner as the other guy, landed on his feet (hardly the sign of someone who is out of control), and reached the ball first (i.e. he didmake the play“). He simply jumped earlier and higher (i.e. better) than the other guy, reached the ball first, and the other guy had the misfortune to jump into his arm. It obviously wasn’t an intentional elbow, and I would say not even wreckless, just unfortunate for the guy on the receiving end.

            There is absolutely “something to be gained” by going for that ball. He won the ball, played it forward (to a team-mate, no less!) and stopped the other team from gaining possession. How is that “having nothing to be gained”??

          3. 1) I can say he’s at a 45 degree angle because. . . I can look at the replay and see he’s at a 45 degree angle.

            2) I can look and see that they aren’t making the same sort of play on the ball at all. If they were, Koffie would never have been in the position to have his elbow hit Phelan in the first place (maybe head-to-head). “Earlier and higher” doesn’t mean “better”–in fact, it’s something close to the opposite. You talk like you think that play was actually clean, when nobody in the world thinks it’s less than a foul, and 90% think it’s a yellow card.

            3) Koffie is a ****ing genius if he meant that behind-the-back play to the team-mate. No, c’mon now, that was obviously random. And that’s the point I’m making, Koffie going up for that is going to generate a random bounce that has almost no chance of generating an offense. Even happening to fall to a team-mate in that situation, where are they going to go with it?

            3) “Preventing the loss of possession”–he didn’t do that. New England in fact won possession from that play.

            I’m making the comparison between what’s to be gained in terms of offense creation with what’s to be risked. From where I sit, you’re ducking the comparison with stuff that doesn’t matter to the comparison at hand.

    2. Meanwhile, there’s a far bigger issue at play, that of guys’ careers getting ended and lives shortened by concussions

      This is a big issue? I think you’re talking about the wrong kind of football. I’ve only heard of one player having a career shortened due to concussion (Taylor Twelman), and I don’t remember hearing of any lives being shortened by it.

      1. Yes there are several MLS players that have had to retire due to concussion syndrome, Ross Paulie from the Crewand just last year I think a Galaxy player retied due to concussions . Chad Marshall has stated that he thought he might have had to retire in 2007. I know there are others I just don’t remember them all.

        1. Really? That’s interesting. I don’t watch MLS that much (I comment on here more as a potential fan than an actual fan), so maybe I’m missing something. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone outside the US retiring due to concussion. Concussion doesn’t even seem to be a common injury in Europe.

          Why does it seem to be more common in the US? Is the US medical profession more likely to/capable of diagnosing concussion? Or are MLS players just doing something wrong?

          1. 2008: Iain Hume (with Barnsley at the time) suffered a life-threatening fractured skull when he was elbowed by Chris Morgan (Sheffield United captain) in the face. He missed about six months due to that injury.

            2006: Pedro Mendes, playing for Portsmouth, was clotheslined by Man City defender Ben Thatcher, knocking him out and forcing him to go to the hospital.

            Those are two of the highest profile incidents that have happened in English football over the past few years – surprised you haven’t heard of them. Lots of players miss time due to concussions and fractured skulls. Just off the top of my head this season, there’s Bristol City captain Louis Carey (fractured skull), Sheff Utd defender Kyle Bartley (fractured cheekbone), Germany defender Per Mertesacker (broken eye socket), and two Arsenal players (I’m an Arsenal supporter) – Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny – both had to leave games with concussions.

          2. oh, and I didn’t even mention the two most obvious examples – Cristian Chivu and Petr Cech, who both wear protective helmets to protect from a life-threatening injury. and of course, during the game Cech was knocked out (against Reading I believe), his backup Carlo Cudicini also suffered a head injury…

            and there’s also the time that John Terry was accidentally kicked in the face, during a League Cup final, and his life was saved by the Arsenal (opposition team) physio, who happened to be on the sidelines nearby because he’d just treated an Arsenal player’s injury.

          3. @David – good points, I’m aware of all of those guys, they’d simply slipped my mind.
            However, I think some of them were out of the game for extended periods due to actual bone fractures etc, rather than concussion (obviously the two conditions have a great deal of overlap, but you can suffer one without the other and vice versa).

            In particular: Hume, Carey, Bartley, Mertsecker – these guys were out for long periods (like P Cech) due to their fractures rather than any concussion, no? (although they may well have also suffered from concussion).

        2. Alecko Eskandarian, Josh Gros, Brian Namoff. Seriously, MLS could use, in order to retain the health of its players, to get that sort of play out of the game. The problem is quite real, and there’s not enough awareness of it.

          Heck, the sufferer of the foul in question is wearing protective headgear because he’s had problems in the past.

    3. You obviously have never played the game. The intent lies in whether the offending player has his eyes on the ball or on his opponent. In this case Koffie clearly has his eyes on the ball. When you’re jumping for the ball your arms will invariably be extended. Is it an offense? yes. Is it intentional? no. Therefore, a free kick has to be given, and to the referees discretion maybe a yellow card. In this case it should be a yellow card. This is not the first time that Mr. Toledo has been refereed like an amateur. MLS games are not amateur games, they are professional games and therefore should have professional referees. I agree that MLS should get a referee from Europe to oversee the referees or if the head of referees in place is already well qualified, then make sure that he either give Mr. Toledo a thorough understanding of the game or send him to Europe for a crash course. Finally, the overweight linesman in the game gave an offside that was clearly not. Let him know that it’s an offside when the ball is kicked not when it is received.

  4. I agree this ref is an abomination, I was at the Revs-DC game. The Schilawksi goal was legit it was the ball playing the hand IMHO, the Phelan call was bad, but so was the penalty that Davies converted. The ref didn’t even explain the call. And to add icing off the cake the red to Jakovic, which was another joke.

    Maybe USSF/MLS should get a renowned ref from Europe or elsewhere to head up the whole organization to bring training, credibility and grade the refs and train them Someone like Collina maybe?

    1. If you were at the game, maybe you had just as bad a view as TOledo did. It doesn’t even matter if Schilawski didn’t deliberately handle the ball — though it’s hard to say whether he did or not. He had his arm up and out, away from his body and the ball came up and off his arm — making it possible for him to keep controlling the ball. That’s a handball.

      “A handball occurs if any player, other than the team’s goalkeeper within his own penalty area, deliberately handles the ball when in play….However, if a player’s arm is in an unnatural position, for example outstretched or above their head, then a foul should be awarded whether accidental or not.”

      Read more:

    2. The Jakovic red was a joke? Reis was jumping through the air to catch the ball. To add to it the play was stopped due to the offside call. In frustration Jakovic uses both hands to push Reis out of the air and onto the ground. Do you not claim that to be excessive force. As the commentators said after the play “it was a cheap shot”

      1. @Tom – Reis came out with his knee at Jakovic, which incidentally was exactly how he injured Eskandarian. Jakovic put his arms up to protect himself from the knee, and Reis responded by kicking out at him.

        The red card to Jakovic wasn’t for any of that though. When the Revs defenders confronted him after the collision, he clearly was demonstrating how Reis had kicked at him (the Revs players were still several feet away at the time). Toledo interpreted this somehow as Jakovic was actually kicking at the defender, thus the stupid red card.

    3. Without knowing much about the specifics of this actual ref, I just want to say that I don’t know if bringing in somebody from Europe (or anywhere else) will improve things. Over on EPL Talk right now, the headline is “Crucial refereeing mistake ruins Man Utd vs Chelsea game”, and there are similar headlines every week at all levels of football.

      I think it’s just inherent in football that referees are going to make human errors, because they’re operating in real time, with one set of eyes, and a pressure to act immediately. Meanwhile, we’re always going to watch every incident in slow-mo five times and proclaim that the ref ruined the game (and never simply that the idiot who took off his shirt in a pre-meditated bookable goal celebration while already on a yellow card ruined the game, or even more fundamentally that the game itself is inherently ruined in that it expects one chubby little man to over see 22 olympian athletes on a 120 yard field with no techological help, intense scrutiny, and only one chance to get things right).

  5. I am going to do something I rarely do, I am going to defend a MLS official. So in the run of play and not on replay, you have two players going up for a ball and one of them leads with his elbow and isn’t looking at the ball, I am going to give the red card for that. If you are jumping up and not looking at the ball you are clearly playing the player, and leading with your elbow is intent.

    No what if you happen in the run of play to lift and elbow and hit a player in the face hard enough that they spend 5 minutes on the sidelines trying to stop the bleeding. Yeah that is a yellow card, intent or not it was reckless and caused injury to a player.

    Now the PK call is a tough one, even on replay you have a player making a run who puts the ball into the area and is tripped on his way past a defender as he goes towards a reachable ball, by the rules that is a PK. The question is was it a playable ball? Having seen last weekend what Camilo can do, hard to say it wasn’t. The second yellow to Hassli was right on target, every player in every league knows the rule, this isn’t a bad call by the official and it isn’t his fault that a player with a yellow (deserved or not) would do something so very stupid.

    I tend to think MLS official try to control the matches and to be honest both New England and Vancouver had some out of control players and plays last night that were dangerous. Players know what Toledo is about, he tends to call a tight match and that is the way it is, so not playing smartly is what cost this match to not end up 11vs.11. The blame clearly goes both ways, and while I don’t like matches ending up this way, the rules have to be enforced and I like many will look at replays and various angles, and slow motion and try to officiate from my chair or couch but in the run of play at full speed with everything going on the officials have to call things that are clear violations or things that put players at risk of injury. I think happened last night.

    1. There were no Revs players being out-of-control physical last night. The Caps were actually the more physical team, and I didn’t see a whole lot untoward in their challenges, either. Koffie’s red was a tad harsh (but excusable), Hassli deserved everything he got. Soares’ red was ridiculous, that’s a yellow. He was late but got a piece of the ball and did not deny a clear goalscoring opportunity. Yellow him for diving in but it wasn’t reckless or violent play.

      The penalty, even from the view on the field, was bogus. I thought initially it was a stonewall penalty until I saw the replays. Camilo may have been able to catch up to that ball – if not for the fact that Zak Boggs was already in a position of advantage to gain possession on it. Camilo tried to run THROUGH Boggs, tripped and flopped better than Carlos Ruiz ever did. You can’t foul a defender for occupying space.

    2. As to the red card I have to give Toledo a pass. Even in the replay it looks close enough to merit a red. Toledo has had his fair share of dubious calls but that was not one of them.

  6. I disagree with your dismissal of Toledo’s performance in the DC-NE game as minor compared to last night. Sure, cards are to be avoided, if not needed — because they do affect the rest of the game. However, they don’t affect the game as much as goal that should have been disallowed, nor as much as bad decision to award a penalty kick when there was no foul. For good measure, the DC-NE also had a crazy red card. A straight red for Jakovic that seemed to be because he was gesturing for the benefit of the Revs players that were in his face, showing that Reis had kicked out at him. While that came very late in the game, it came after DC had gotten one goal and was pressing for the tying goal. The card ended DC’s chance of getting a point.

    Toledo may have had a bad game last night, but it’s hard to do worse than what he did in literally handing a game to NE with three undeniably wrong, game-changing calls.

  7. I guess you thought the PK that Davies converted was a good call? You seem to be glossing over that one.

    Jakovic was pretty stupid doing any kung-fu kicks on the field while pressing for a tying goal. Not red but his fault because the initial contact with Reis didn’t get any attention until Jakovic did his Bruce Lee impression.

    1. The Jakovic red card was certainly legit, no argument there. The Davies PK was questionable, but not in the same vein as the other two. Agree to disagree I guess. But still reinforces my point, the whole match was poorly refereed.

      1. At least with the Phelan PK you can see someone went down, the Davies one was a free kick scrum that had bodies falling all over and the ref pointing to the spot in the dying minutes of a game that DC had virtually no threats. Like you said agree to disagree.

        My bigger point is the quality of MLS players is constantly improving but the refs seem to be lagging. The USSF should be promoting a program to make better refs and aim to get a US ref in the World Cup. When was the last time that happened?

    2. Was rockin the fort at the NWE-DCU game and had an upfront view of the Jakovic red. Jakovic was charging and Reis delivered his own kick at Jakovic to avoid getting bowled over. Jakovic’s kung-fu complaining was him miming Reis. My first thought with the card was it was Reis as I thought he was outside the goal box.

      The red was actually for Jakovic’s actions against Cochrane (Team America FTW) who confronted Jakovic for charging Reis and kicking out at anyone close by during his protestations.

  8. The goal in the TFC game that was ruled offside was 1) the correct call and 2) made by the assistant referee on a close play. I don’t see how you can blame Toledo for that one.

    My issue with him is that he seems to relish the attention. Never a good sign for a referee. Look at the giant smile on his face after he sends off Soares.

    There must be a reason why controversy seems to follow him around. Maybe they need to stop assigning him to NE matches.

  9. We get used to seeing officials in other countries and in major matches, who tend to be the “cream of the crop” (quotes because it’s not always true). I think that simulation has gotten well out of control in MLS this season, but it’s a global crisis IMO. You have it in every league, and it puts pressure on the referee. A guy gets a forearm in the face, no matter how accidental, and he’s writhing on the ground like he’s been mugged with a lead pipe. Then two minutes later he strolls back on and runs past the defense to testify to his miraculous healing!

    My suggestion would be to have a committee after each weekend assess players’ conduct when it comes to challenges, especially the way that a player suffering a foul embellishes and/or delays the game, and assess his effectiveness after treatment. Perhaps have a point system that the committee uses, and if players accrue too many points, they receive fines and/or a match ban. The trouble is that it goes against FIFA’s fiat that states that the referee is always right, and for shame if you think or act otherwise.

  10. I am not defending all of Toledo’s work. I don’t know enough to have an opinion.

    But on that play, I can see a red card. The announcers both were 100% sure it was a red card, then they changed their mind on the reply. Not sure why they changed their mind, he led with his arm and followed through by extending his arm.

    Maybe he was trying to keep his balance. I don’t care….it looked like he was intentionally swinging, what is a ref going to do IGNORE that ?

    1. This is a good point – in the replay, we can clearly see it was not intentional – Koffie simply leaped higher and earlier than Phelan, and it didn’t look like Koffie intentionally lead with, or swung, his elbow.

      But from the first viewing, in real time and looking from an angle behind Koffie (i.e. a similr angle to the ref’s own view, albeit further away), it does look like Koffie swings his arm. I think he actually moves his arm for balance after the impact, but I can see how the ref could misinterpret it.

      So I think the ref has made a mistake on that call, but I think it’s an understandable one – from where he was stood, it looked like a violent elbow, and he can only call what he sees.

      1. in real time the defender swings his head back as he gets hit with the elbow. All of us would make that red card call due to the guy jumping up with his elbows in the air.

    2. @Charles

      Which announcers were both 100% sure it was a red card? Luke Weilman and Jason Devos both said it certainly wasn’t a red.

  11. What makes you think an elbow has to be intentional to be a red card? Look in the laws of the game. You won’t find it.

    The laws say that a player who uses excessive force must be sent off. USSF has informed refs that a player who leads with his forearm/elbow up and into the head of an opponent has committed a foul using excessive force and MUST be sent off.

    1. Violent conduct is usually defined by intent or grossly reckless play. I’m not condemning the red card, but I wouldn’t have been opposed to seeing a yellow there, even as a Revs fan. A reckless play with an elbow to the face is ALWAYS at least a yellow, but in my mind it’s only a red if you can clearly see the intent…or he comes flying in from like 10 yards away and just cracks the guy’s skull with no chance of getting the ball. He might not be trying to do that, but that’s a dumb challenge. Koffie had a shot at the ball.

  12. Your analysis of Toledo – who did indeed have a bad game, but you just don’t understand why – is almost 100% wrong. The penalty was an obviously good call, the NE goal which you call onside was obviously off, Soares did not get the ball on his red card tackle, etc, etc.

    And YOU have the benefit of replay.

  13. When in doubt blame the ref…which is made all the easier when the ref is Toledo who does have a bit of a track record.

    On further review of everything, I only blame him for the NE red card which was a yellow at best. MLS/USSF will absolutely back him for the red on the elbow to the head and on the swinging wildly yellow. Every sport league in the country has now recognized the dangers inherent in elbow/head contact and are trying to stop it entirely.

    I think the PK was entirely within his discretion…I tend to question the homer announcers’ claim that the ball wasn’t playable.

    So, long story short…weird game, some difficult calls, and an error or two…this isn’t a reason to get rid of Toledo, but the author’s knee jerk reaction does give me pause.

    1. I’m sorry, have you ever watched a match reffed by Toledo? This isn’t his first rodeo; hell, it’s not even his first bad SEASON. He’s been begging for attention and ruining matches for years, and is consensus one of the worst refs in MLS.

      The Koffie red was arguably harsh. I’m not mad he gave it, but I certainly would have had no complaint with a yellow. Hassli’s foul was a yellow. The penalty was NOT a penalty. I can understand why he gave it, he may have had a bad angle and there was contact, but Zak Boggs (and any defender) has the right to occupy the space he’s in, and Camilo running into the guy and then flopping doesn’t constitute a penalty. Boggs had a clear advantage to the ball any way you slice it.

      Soares red was embarrassing. He caught a nick of the ball, but the studs were down and it did not deny a goalscoring opportunity or a clear run on goal. It was a late tackle, yellow-worthy for recklessness, nothing else.

      This game is but one symptom of the massive body of work that can prove why Toledo needs to be removed. Don’t ask me, though, ask around. You’ll hear it.

  14. I think its a red all day. This league has had some lax calls and not protecting the players. You don’t jump and put your elbows in the air. serves that faux promoted team right.

  15. The only bad call was the Soares decision. On Koffie, you might think intentional matters, but upon the replay look at that contact! In the refs line of sight he sees a head get snapped aside. That was a red.

    1. I totally agree. The Soares decision was wrong-headed, poor; yellow there. But the rest of the calls were legit.

  16. As I’ve mentioned in the above comment (replying to Charles), I think the first red card was a mistake, but an understandable one – I don’t think we should be castigating refs for those kind of errors.

    As for the rest of the article, I can’t actually comment on the specifics of the incidents themselves (since I haven’t seen them), but I will make a few comments on the way they have been written up:

    Firstly, I think there’s some logical inconsistency in how you treat Hassil’s first yellow card. You’ve already established in your first bullet point (relating to Koffie) that you believe an unintentional elbow should be a yellow card. So how do you say that Hassil’s unintentional elbow should not have been a yellow card? To be honest, I’m not 100% sure of the rules regarding these issues (is anyone?), but as I understand it, a card can be yellow-cardable (or even red-cardable) simply for being wreckless rather than intentional. So I think our understanding of this nuance has to be cleared up before we start saying that unintentional elbows should be yellows, reds, or nothing at all.

    Secondly, regardless of the rights or wrongs of his first yellow card, Hassil is dumb beyond belief for getting his second yellow card. That’s not a refereeing mistake – the rules on the matter are clear and well known. Taking his shirt off is a bookable offense, regardless of what you have underneath it, and throwing it into the crowd is certainly a bookable offense. Hassil is not only an idiot for doing this, but an idiot for planning it in advance (hence the spare shirt).

    I know some people think that when a player gets a yellow, refs should go easy on them for the rest of the game (i.e. not book them for “silly” offenses like this), but I’ve never agreed. An offense that deserves a yellow-card (by the rules of the game) should be met with a yellow-card, no matter how “silly”, and regardless of whether a player has already been booked for an earlier offense. I don’t understand how any sport can be refereed with any integrity without following this principle. Also, I don’t agree with the associated implication that a ref should strive to keep 22 players on the field, and if he fails to do so, he is somehow robbing the fans of a legitimate game.

    In Saturday’s Toronto-Chivas match, Maicon had a close goal ruled offsides, a goal that could have been the difference in the match. Just like in last night’s match when a New England goal in the second half was incorrectly ruled offsides.

    This bit doesn’t make sense for two reasons. Firstly, you say Maicon’s “close” goal was ruled offside. So? Was it a correct offside or not? And the fact that it “could have been the difference” is neither here nor there – it’s either a correct call or not, regardless of how the goal might have impacted the match.

    Secondly, aren’t offside calls largely the linesman’s responsibility? Unless you’re saying the linesman got it right, but Toledo decided to override him and make the wrong call (or alternatively, that the linesman got it wrong, but Toledo must have had a better view and should have overruled him, but failed to do so), then I think you’re clutching at straws to try and bash the referee on this issue.

  17. “The next controversial call came immediately after”

    The 2nd yellow for taking off his shirt is absolutely not controversial. It was, without question, 100% the right call to make.

    I think a lot of refs would argue that the first red could have been warranted as well.

    The last red card was very poor.

  18. It appears from the comments that a lot of you have never played the game or know the rules. A straight red should be given only if there is an intent to injure (ball is missed in the a tackle and the offending player has his studs showing) or if there is a clear opportunity for a goal to be scored (the offending player is the last man back).

    John April 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm to Sgc

    You obviously have never played the game. The intent lies in whether the offending player has his eyes on the ball or on his opponent. In this case Koffie clearly has his eyes on the ball. When you’re jumping for the ball your arms will invariably be extended. Is it an offense? yes. Is it intentional? no. Therefore, a free kick has to be given, and to the referees discretion maybe a yellow card. In this case it should be a yellow card. This is not the first time that Mr. Toledo has been refereed like an amateur. MLS games are not amateur games, they are professional games and therefore should have professional referees. I agree that MLS should get a referee from Europe to oversee the referees or if the head of referees in place is already well qualified, then make sure that he either give Mr. Toledo a thorough understanding of the game or send him to Europe for a crash course. Finally, the overweight linesman in the game gave an offside that was clearly not. Let him know that it’s an offside when the ball is kicked not when it is received.

    1. First of all, “I play the game and you don’t” is not a legitimate way of arguing a point. It’s an argument from authority, except you’re not an authority.

      Secondly, here’s a little more on the “myth of intent”:

      Go to the second clip. USSF ‘officially’ regards that foul as a red card because of its propensity to injure the player/excessive force. It’s not clear that it was intentional, and in calling for a red card, the USSF podcast makes no mention of intent.

      Thirdly, again, his eyes would not prove lack of intent even if that was the question.

  19. I’m sorry guys, but that’s not a red card on Koffie. I’m impartial in this, really if you’re going to call that, then you might as well just stop playing the sport. Of course Phelan acts like he was mauled by an 800 lb grizzly, but can still fight through all that pain to play the full 90 and probably have a few pints after the match. I’d place 90% of the blame on Pat Phelan, and if I were Don Garber I’d probably suspend him a match. We’ve gotta get through this crap where players intentionally want their opponents sent off.

    The rules are for a player’s safety and the sanctity of the sport. Koffie’s challenge did nothing to jeopardize either of those items, and therefore a red card is deplorable. Shame on Phelan for his antics.

    1. I agree the players antics are getting worse. Falling on the ball to make the ref whistle a stop, flopping dropping, showing imaginary cards, etc is bad.

      But having watched Phelan play and the concussion he has endured he is not that type of player. Look at that Peter Cech headgear he has to wear I suppose that wold give him a little leeway when it comes to headshots.

      1. Yes but this particular match was directly influenced by a play that caused the sufferer very little actual damage. So a player needs to sit a match and a half because he was irresponsible with his arm? Tripping someone accidentally can cause a player to suffer a torn ACL, are we going to red card every time someone sticks their leg out to block a guy’s progress?

        1. The differences between an ACL and a concussion are:

          1) ACLs are always a bit random. Guys twist wrong under no contact and can do ligament or tendon damage. Concussions, by contrast, are a fairly predictable results of headshots. (Especially cumulatively.)
          2) Concussions are ‘worse’, in the sense that you don’t just miss playing time, they can shorten guys lives and severely impact the quality of life for decades after playing is done. The brain is a more important part of the body than your average ligament.

  20. Now I’m a Revs fan, but I agree with all of this. When Toledo reffed the NE/DC match 2 weeks ago he called 2 PKs!!!! This assclown needs to be relieved of his duties and NOW! USSF, DO SOMETHING BEFORE THIS IDIOT MAKES A PLACE RIOT!

  21. Baldomero Toledo is by far the worst referee in MLS & US Soccer. This man continues to make questionable calls and gives out questionable cards. He thinks he knows what he is doing, but has failed very badly. Very true that MLS does not manage the on-field officials, but US Soccer has to step up and show some leadership and make their referee’s accountable for their continued incompetance.

    But unfortunately nothing will be done unless Gulati tells the referee department to fix the problem and threatens them that he will do it himself if it is necessary.

  22. I had a big issue with the cards in the game.

    There were several tackles that weren’t worthy of the card they were given (Harris, Soares)

    And Hassli’s first yellow… It clearly was an elbow.

    Clear to us on replay anyways.

    Toledo didn’t call it originally, b/c he didn’t see it. (I think we have established he isn’t slow to reach for a card, lol)

    He originally called it a foul on the Revs player, who was trying to get Hassli off the ball, and awarded Vancouver the free kick.

    Then a minute later, he goes over the Revs player, sees he has a bloody/broken nose, and then immediately cards Hassli.

    My problem with this is that he clearly didn’t see the foul, he didn’t confer with the other officials who might have had a better angle.

    The Revs player could have run into Hassli’s shoulder and done the damage (keep in mind he originally was fouling Hassli, which led to the whistle), or it could have happened when he hit the ground, or earlier in the game and just was bleeding more now due to exertion, etc

    How can you reverse your original call and give a yellow for something you didn’t see?

  23. I’ve been watching football (soccer) for 30 years, primarily in Europe but some other leagues too. I happened to be in Vancouver last night so I watched the game on TV. I can say without a doubt that that was the worst ref performance I have ever seen (the reason I’m on this web site was to see if the ref had been fired for that effort). They love to complain in Europe about ref’s but the guy last night took the cake. I don’t support either team ( and both teams got terrible decisions) And I don’t usually follow the MLS, so maybe they play differently here, But I think it turned what was an entertaining spectacle for the casual observer into a farce, and made the MLS look a bit embarrassing. A performance like that anywhere else would quickly result in suspension/axing, and yet there seems to be some people defending it? Anyway this is just the opinion of an outside observer

  24. MLS Refs have been bad for a long time now it seems like each week there is some thing else. And I will say I some times wonder when I am at RB games if the game is FIX. Now is it a fix game I don’t think so. But some times I do wonder why because some times it seems like the game is refd one side. US soccer and MLS needs to work together to develope the refs better.

  25. Anyone who plays Football Manager in the MLS is also aware of Toledo’s incompetence. He routinely dishes out 6-8 yellow cards a game on the football management simulator.

  26. This ref is bad, worse than most refs, but as someone mentioned, bad calls are made every week in football, and will continue to affect game outcomes until video review is allowed.

  27. This league is a joke regardless. Unwatchable football. Spastic fans. No skill on the pitch. Annoying nancies in the stands. Pathetic from top to bottom.

    If it wasn’t for anchultz and hunt, who were stupidly charitable, this league wouldnt even exist anymore. It is garbage. You’re lucky eccentric millionaires bailed u out, and Blatter forces TV to broadcast this trash in order to get rights to the World Cup. Your lucky breaks will run out sooner or later.

  28. OMFG! Just watched this idiot referee the Portland v Houston game
    on 10/14/2011. One of the worst displays of refereeing I’ve ever

    1. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic or like a fanatic here….but
      qualify that. I’m a huge soccer player (not so much a fan, because
      pro sports are more for fat worthless people, or rich people with
      too much time and money), so my understanding of the game is more
      from a playing perspective…I play Goalkeeper. This was both my,
      and my son’s first Timbers game…I was born and raised in
      Portland, and I am a 4th generation Oregonian. First; I want to
      clearly state that the two Goals scored by Houston, should have
      been EASILY prevented by the defense or the Keeper. The first one
      was a shameful display of lack of fundamentals defensively,
      including the BASIC understanding of guarding the near post angle
      on a wide angle shot…and the second goal was nothing more than
      Troy “6’2 with my 4 inch tranny heals on” Perkins was caught flat
      footed and way off his line on a “i’m feeling lucky” chip shot to
      the far upper corner; that any young, and actually 6’3 keeper who
      wasn’t distracted by his 401k plan and that it’s past his
      bedtime…could have saved in his sleep. but I digress. The main
      point is that this game should have been 0-0 though 90 min or more
      like 1-1 or 2-2. It was only 2-0 because the officiating failed to
      recognize a blatant pattern of minor fouls being committed by one
      side in order to control the pace of the game. 19 fouls…2 yellows
      to 7 fouls and no yellows? Are you kidding? The shots on goal and
      the time of possession, were almost identical….the only
      difference in the game, in my opinion, was that Houston fouled
      Portland every time an attack was developing in the
      midfield…thus, disarming them from the ability to get to the
      wings and corners, and taking away Portland’s most effective
      scoring ability… close-in set pieces. I cannot argue that
      Portland played at a higher level than Houston…but I truly
      believe that Houston got one over, either on the league, or the
      ref, or both. I just find it a shame that a ref with the record of
      questionable performance like Mr. Toledo would even be considered
      to officiate a game in the 1st week of the season, let alone the
      most critical weeks towards the end. Seriously…just google the
      guys name. See if “Best Ref Ever”, “Highly Qualified” or “Fair and
      Competent” show up anywhere in the first 1000 results. And what
      they really got one over on, was my 3 year old son, who was
      attending his 1st soccer game ever…and he was robbed of any sense
      of joy, quality, or pride in what his father was hoping to show
      him. Not in that the home team lost, but in that there was no
      honor, dignity nor sense of the perhaps now long gone platonic
      ideal of sport in what we saw tonight. For shame. Ban Toledo from
      the MLS, let him go ruin the hopes of people in a lesser
      league…or France.

  29. El Zero Toledo did it again to us Whitecaps fans last night. He’s a
    joke. HIs linesman needs to read the rulebook again re: no offsides
    on a throw-in , . . . absolutely brutal. If I see that guy on our
    field one more time, I’ll be mailing my 4 season tickets back to
    head office.

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