HARRISON, N.J. – Jesse Marsch is apparently playing the game within the game quite well, the former MLS veteran now entering his third year as head coach of the New York Red Bulls. Turns out he is earning a reputation for being a bit of a chess master…and not everyone is keen on it.
On Wednesday night in a 1-1 home draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps, in the quarterfinal round of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, Marsch was accused by Carl Robinson -his counterpart on Vancouver -of perhaps getting in the ear of the match’s fourth official and influencing him. The officiating crew, from Mexico, whistled the visiting Whitecaps for 19 fouls compared to seven fouls for the Red Bulls. They also issued a red card in the 71st minute to Vancouver’s Cristian Techera. It was a very physical game from both teams.
After the match, Robinson, who played two years for the Red Bulls and is a former Welsh international, was asked if there was a difference between the Mexican crew assigned by CONCACAF and a typical MLS officiating crew.
His answer dealt more with the actions of Marsch rather than the job done on Wednesday night by the officials.
“I think there is a difference. I don’t know whether we see a difference today or not, I’ll leave that to you to decide. When I’m trying to scream at the fourth official because maybe I think Jesse’s influencing him because obviously he’s very close to him, he just looks at me and smiles. I think it’s brilliant. In MLS they come over. Listen, it’s not about officials, it’s about players. It’s not about coaches, it’s about players,” Robinson said.
“I think you saw that today: Two good teams having a go at each other. End-to-end, mistakes, red cards, goals, penalties – it’s not about officials.
“I didn’t answer that really, did I? Because I’ve been told not to.”
Robinson said the last line with a smile and a chuckle, looking at the team’s media relations representative standing directly to his right.
There is nothing in the rule book in either MLS or international soccer about the positioning of the fourth official or a head coach talking with him, provided that he remains in the approved technical area. According to PRO, the referee association for MLS as well as other leagues in the United States, the fourth official He assists the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game. The referee, however, retains the authority to decide on all points connected with play.
This isn’t the first time that an opposing head coach has been down this road before with the Red Bulls skipper.
Last year, New York City FC’s head coach Patrick Vieira accused Marsch of influencing the officials with comments made to the press during the week leading up to the New York derby about calls made in an earlier installment of the rivalry. Vieira refused to shake Marsch’s hand following his own dismissal from what was the third meeting between the two sides last year, a Red Bulls win.
As for the call on Techera, Robinson didn’t want to delve into that quagmire.
Was it a red card? I haven’t seen it actually so I didn’t ask him. If it is, he deserves to get a red card,” Robinson said. “If he didn’t, it’s wrong.”