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Peter Vermes calls out ‘incompetent’ officiating in Sporting KC’s draw with Galaxy

KANSAS CITY — Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes has never been shy. His boldness has, at times, extended to comments about officiating.

But Saturday, in a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy at home, Vermes’s frustration with Major League Soccer officials boiled over to a new level.

“I will say that LA played a good game and they were a good team tonight, for sure, no doubt,” he said. “But the difference is, we were better. And unfortunately, we were playing against not only the team, but unfortunately the referees on the field. Here’s the thing: That kind of performance by them is unacceptable at this stage in the league.”

The reasons behind Vermes’s postgame fire were varied. First, the Galaxy scored on a first-half penalty kick awarded off a questionable foul call. As the Galaxy’s Ola Kamara flew in the air amid a run toward goal, Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia came sliding under him. But according to fourth official Sorin Stoica, Matt Besler had tripped Kamara before Melia got there. Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted the penalty, and Kansas City eventually settled for a draw because of it.

Vermes’s main complaint was that the official didn’t actually review the play, and instead relied on the “people upstairs” checking the replay.

“That tells you the incompetence of the people that are actually viewing it,” Vermes said.

Diego Rubio was at the center of the other main officiating controversies. Early in the second half, Rubio went down after a hard tackle. Kansas City players were lobbying the official for a foul (one was not called on that play) because of the defender’s contact with Rubio’s legs.

“Thank goodness that no player on the field got injured tonight because the tackle on Rubio, that he said the guy got all ball – it blows me away,” Vermes said. “Everybody in the stadium saw it except for him. He’s not smarter than everybody else. Absolutely unacceptable performance.”

And in the 94th minute, as Rubio fought to win a header, Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham came flying out, his fist connecting with Rubio’s head.

“That’s 100-percent a penalty,” Vermes said. “No player on the field, I don’t care if it’s a goalkeeper or anybody, has the ability to punch somebody in the head in a game. Doesn’t matter. That is reckless.”

That play also was not reviewed by VAR.

Vermes pointed to Saturday’s match as an example of the inconsistency displayed by MLS officials, something he said shouldn’t be an issue at this “stage” in the league.

“If you can’t sit back and evaluate that game based on what I just said – it’s obvious,” Vermes said. “What I am disappointed about is the fact that when I look at our team, I look at the work our guys put in, the way that we played, to have the game, to have the points taken away form them based on their (officials’) performance is what I have a problem with, and I will stand up and defend that every single day, every game that we have, for this club as long as I am here.”

He continued, calling for the standard of officiating in the league to be raised.

“We expect high standards for our players,” he said. “We expect a high standard of play, and we expect the same from the league and PRO (Profession Referee Organization), and right now that’s not happening. That didn’t happen tonight.”

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