ORLANDO, Fla. — Ali Krieger did not hold back when discussing referee Reyna Fonseca and NWSL refs in general following the Orlando Pride’s 1-0 loss to the Houston Dash on Saturday.
Krieger, the Pride’s stalwart defensive presence, ripped into the league’s referees and their inconsistent performances.
“We’re putting a good product out on the field and every year we’re getting better and the referees seem like they are not,” she said. “So, I beg the NWSL — just the standard needs to be higher. It’s just unfortunate that you feel like the referee is ruining the game. They are taking the fun out of the game because they are not good enough.
“And I don’t mean to place blame but I’m just so sick coming out every Saturday or Sunday and the standard is so low when we are trying to pick the standard up so high that the referees are just not good enough. Male, female, it doesn’t matter. We need good referees.”
The Pride went down to nine players following two separate red card incidents. The incident which caught Krieger ire and other Orlando Pride players came in the 83rd minute after defender Kristen Edmonds was called for a foul while battling for the ball in the box, triggering a penalty kick.
In the midst of Fonseca checking with one of her assistant referees about the penalty call, players from both teams argued and Marta pushed Houston’s Kristie Mewis. Marta was shown a red card in the 85th minute for violent conduct.
In the 61st minute, Pride defender Julie King was given a straight red card after Fonseca determined she denied Mewis a goal-scoring opportunity.
The NWSL has built a reputation as being arguably the best women’s professional soccer league in the world. The quality of players like Krieger along with other U.S. women’s national team standouts and European players who play at an international level has brought the league into the spotlight.
Both Kriger and Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner said the issue is consistency with calls that are made.
“We are here to grow this game, we’re here to grow the female officials to make sure they are the best in the world as well,” Skinner said. “I agree with Ali. There are inconsistencies and if we can [fix] that then not only will we have better players in the best league in the world, you’ll also have the best officials. I hope the NWSL will continue to invest in that strategy and that system.”
Krieger added, “It just has to be better. I am just so sick of driving home after these games and thinking, even if we win, ‘God, I just wish the referees were just a little bit better.’ The standard needs to be a little bit higher because we’re raising the standard every single year and we bring out such great quality and then it’s sometimes ruined because of them. And that’s the honest truth. That’s what I have to say about that.”