BRONX, N.Y. – New York City FC defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, but the centerpiece of the intense rivalry match was the pair of calls referee Silviu Petrescu reversed after video review.
The first was for a seventh-minute foul by New England defender Antonio Delamea on Valentin Castellanos which Petrescu changed from caution to ejection after ruling that Delamea was the last defender on the play, though some angles appeared to show Delamea getting to the ball first.
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) September 7, 2019
New England, which took a 1-0 lead on Juan Fernando Caicedo’s second-minute goal, had been in control until that point and remained resolute defensively until NYCFC tied the game through second-half substitute Jesus Medina in the 70th minute.
But VAR reared its head again in the third minute of stoppage time when Petrescu missed Revolution defender Andrew Farrell sliding into New York’s Alexandru Mitrita — a much clearer foul — in the penalty area. After a chorus of mostly boos from the announced crowd of 21,236, Petrescu reviewed the foul, reversed his call and awarded NYCFC with a penalty, which Medina converted with a hard shot to the lower left corner of the net to give the hosts a late lead they would not relinquish.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) September 7, 2019
“It could have been a good game, It really could have been,” said Revolution head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena, who was particularly critical of Delamea’s red card.
“Nothing to talk to him about,” Arena said of Delamea. “You know, they use the ‘ole VAR, so that probably sealed it.”
Fernando Caicedo, who opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season, has only played 60 minutes or more in seven of his 23 league appearances this season. He came off after 22 minutes Saturday to make way for Jalil Anibaba, who slotted into Delamea’s spot in central defense.
“Obviously, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted,” Fernando Caicedo said after the game through a Spanish translator. “I always want to play, and we scored really quickly, which helped my confidence overall, but at the end of the day it was a mandatory change. It had to happen, I completely understood. It’s all about the effort at the end of the day and helping out the team.”
Away from live microphones, off camera and outside the visiting team locker room at Yankee Stadium, Arena was heard complaining about Petrescu’s call on the red card. Taylor Twellman, the former Revolution player who is now an ESPN soccer analyst, chimed in via social media and expressed bewilderment at Petrescu’s decision in a tweet.
“I think it’s obvious,” Delamea said. “I play the ball back to Matt [Turner]. Maybe I touched [Castellanos] with my hand afterwards, but that’s just because the guy came into my way running, so I just think that was the wrong decision that cost us a win.
“Before my sending off, I think we were the better team on the field. All I can say is it’s probably now me that’s going to get fined for something that’s obvious to everyone that I didn’t do. It is how it is.”
The Revolution can appeal Delamea’s red card ahead of next Saturday’s visit to Orlando City SC, especially since Juan Agudelo and Wilfried Zahibo (yellow card accumulation) will be suspended for the match. But there’s no guarantee the decision will be overturned.
But Turner, who tied his nine-save personal record for most saves in a game, was more accepting of the calls. On a night when NYCFC outshot the Revolution 30-7, he felt his side could have done more to avoid having their five-game unbeaten run snapped.
“Haven’t seen replays yet. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t,” Turner said of the red card. “Either way, decisions are made on the field and you have to be able to perform regardless. The referee can be a variable and you just have to go out there and do your job – and we did that for a majority of the game. We were up 1-0, and we looked pretty compact, we looked pretty organized. And, you know, just two plays and they were clinical.
When asked about tying his personal record, Turner added, “We lost, so it doesn’t make anything better, no silver linings. Had the chance to get three, had the chance to get a point and we gave it all away. No silver linings, really.”