HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — With replacement referees handling the games, there was bound to be some controversy in Major League Soccer this season.
It happened in Week 2.
Vicente Sanchez scored on a penalty kick in the 72rd minute after a questionable decision by the substitute referee and the Colorado Rapids and new coach Pablo Mastroeni opened their season with a 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
Substitute referee Alan Kelly awarded the penalty kick after defender Jamison Olave used his chest to knock a much smaller Marvin Chavez to the grass as he took a pass from Sanchez.
"If it's against you it's a tough call," Mastroeni said. "If it's for you, you are OK with it. I think referees are out of our control."
The substitute referees are working the games because the Professional Referee Organization, which manages on-field officials for Major League Soccer, has locked out officials from the Professional Soccer Referees Association. The two sides have failed to reach agreement on a contract after the officials formed a union last year.
Kelly told a pool reporter that Olave challenged Chavez from behind and initiated the contact, a decision that brought boos from the crowd of 20,542 at Red Bull Arena who earlier had thought that Thierry Henry's 57th-minute goal would be the winner.
"I don't mean to be blunt, but in terms of the questions that's the straight forward answers I can give," Kelly said.
Red Bulls coach Mike Petke didn't like the decision but he wasn't going to draw a fine from the league by criticizing it.
"Listen, it's the game," Petke said. "I mean what am I going to say about the penalty kick? Perhaps if the guy was Olave's size he would not have gone down like that. I don't know? Olave looked to step up and stand his ground and keep him in front of him and got him. The referee made a decision. It's unfortunate for us, fortunate for Colorado. You get away from it, move on from it."
The 6-foot-3 and 210-pound Olave, who seemed shocked by the call, left the locker room and was not available for comment.
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