Let Them Play

Okay, listen to the referee podcasts at Club Fed.

Now, go and read Bill's last entry, and Geneva's comment at the bottom, which went a little something something like this:

Maybe it's not the refs. Maybe it's the league.

The referee podcast from Week 3 on April 9 lauded referees for decreasing foul calls, but increasing cards. They want to keep the game flowing, but will punish harshly actual fouls. The logical, and correct, outcome was seen this weekend - and players and coaches are up in arms. The morons.

"Let them play" is the mantra we keep hearing, and I couldn't agree more. I just think people like John Harkes and Alexi Lalas - by FAR from the only offenders here - are using it incorrectly. You'd think at some point I'd get tired of telling Hall of Famers how the sport should be run, but you know what? Fans outrank players and refs, and fans want to see players, not hacks.

Do we want to see Landon Donovan playing, or diving? Do we want to see Sacha Kljestan working his skills, or timing studs-up tackles? Do we think Guatemala has the right idea to achieve world soccer prominence, only they're not a big enough country to pull it off?

When people refer to "derby" matches, it's not supposed to mean "roller derby without skates." But this is the kind of player we have in the league now. Brian Hall goes into detail about how players are throwing more elbows now because the refs are cracking down on fouls below the waist.

This is what we're paying to watch. This is what we're cheering for. "Hm, I'm not allowed to kick the guy? Okay, I'll throw an elbow instead." Clearly "actually playing soccer" has long since left the list of options here.

A few years ago Scottish ref Stuart Dougal reffed a game between the Fire and DC United, and effectively said MLS was full of hacking clowns. Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena howled Dougal out of the country, unwilling to believe that a guy who had reffed Old Firm games would have some idea of what is acceptable tough play.

And look where we are now.

So Tim Weyland tried to call a clean game, and the players ignored him.

Seriously, get a load of this sequence, according to what the players told Phil Collin:

What can you do with idiots like this? Tim Weyland's going to take a lot of crap this week, but just because the players and coaches want to make a mockery of the game doesn't mean they should be allowed to.

But too many people this week are going to suggest the soccer equivalent of "The crime rate is too high. Let's stop arresting people."

If we're strong and patient, eventually we'll see players playing again. But if we keep confusing "Let them play" for "Let them foul," we're done for.

EDIT - man, I didn't even mention Carlos Johnson and Mike Chalaba. For those of you unfortunate enough to see the Houston-New York game, those plays were absolutely in character with the rest of the game. Who was the better team? Who can tell?