SEATTLE—A non-call by MLS Cup referee Allen Chapman had Toronto FC players scratching their heads and wondering what could have been following a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders.
The Sounders broke the deadlock in the 57th minute of Sunday’s match when a cross by defender Kelvin Leerdam deflected off Reds defender Justin Morrow and into Toronto’s net.
A collision between TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio and Seattle counterpart Cristian Roldan in the buildup to that goal perplexed the visitors post-game. From Osorio’s perspective, Roldan committed a professional foul by obstructing his run near midfield. Captain Michael Bradley, who believed the Sounders had been largely pinned into their half until that point, touched a ball on to Osorio, who remembered escaping a sliding tackle by Leerdam and pushing the ball into space.
“As I’m going, Roldan knows that I beat him so as a smart player he comes in front of me — not playing that ball, not even looking really at the ball, come into my line — and of course I run into him because he comes into my space,” Osorio said.
Chapman didn’t make a call, giving the Sounders a rare chance to break out, according to Bradley. They scored and it swayed the momentum in Seattle’s favour.
The referee later told Osorio that he ran into Roldan. Osorio was aghast as he reflected on the incident.
“We’re in control of the game, playing very well, definitely playing better than them,” the Canadian said. “They get the goal, a deflection as well, unlucky ... Their crowd gets into it ... they breathe life into their team, their team gets a little bit of confidence of course — normal after a goal — and it changes the game.”
Every Toronto player who spoke about the incident said they didn’t like talking about the officiating but couldn’t reconcile the non-call with what they saw. Striker Alejandro Pozuelo estimated he was two metres away from Osorio in the moment and called it a “clear foul for me.”
“It wasn’t only that call. It was a lot of things that happened during the game ... there was a lot of fouls that he was not calling,” Pozuelo said.
Forward Jozy Altidore, who entered the game in the wake of that goal to try and ignite a comeback, didn’t hold back in his criticism.
“We know that,” Altidore said. “We know that the standard of MLS refereeing is next to horrible, so you can’t count on them bailing you out on anything.”
Bradley ultimately chalked it up to being a part of the game.
“Obviously in the moment, sure, it’s frustration that a play that a lot of us on the field thought was a foul wasn’t called, but that’s football.”
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