Fantastic season. People calling for Vermes' head are insane. This is a young team that is one piece away from greatness.
[cliche bitching about referee]The outcome of tonight's game would have been radically different with an even marginally competent referee. I will never understand how a team can possess the ball for 70+% of the game, and be called for the same number of fouls as the team that possessed the ball for less than 30% of the game. Particularly when Houston is known as a fouling team. It isn't impossible to foul on offense, but it is rare. So essentially, you would have to believe that in the 25 minutes or so that Houston "possessed" (and I use that term loosely) the ball, they were fouled 14 times. Considering a lot of the Houston "possession" was an outlet pass followed by a long ball, you basically have to believe Houston was fouled every time they tried to move the ball up the field. Meanwhile CJ Sapong is getting mugged all game, literally judo thrown to the ground. Kamara is getting smashed into and run over. Houston's right and left backs hacked down any player wide, and the referee had at least 3 opportunities to call a penalty kick in KC's favor and declined all three times. It is absolutely ridiculous that the aggressive team is not rewarded, but rather punished by a referee in that situation.
Meanwhile, the refereeing in the first match wasn't necessarily unfair, so much as it stylistically disadvantaged SKC and advantaged HOU. At least he was consistent. I felt like I watched 3 different referees at tonight's game. It is unacceptable that I have attended more MLS games this year than that referee has worked in his career. FOR A PLAYOFF GAME. His performance was characterized almost exclusively by pettiness and cowardice. Only one card against HOU for persistent infringement when literally every time an SKC player had a step on the wing he was fouled. Refusal to call penalty kicks or even fouls in crucial situations so as to not influence the game. Petty insistence on ensuring that throw ins were taken from the exact correct spot, ruining flow and attack. No cards or even warnings for persistent delay of game and time wasting. And craziest to me of all, he motioned on at least 4 occasions to a HOU player to get up because he dived. Yet, he never issued a card for simulation, and did not change the way he called the game to account for the flopping. Recognizing that it is happening, but refusing to man up and deliver the required sanction and repeated warnings is outrageous to me. [/cliche]
And none of that matters if SKC finishes their chances. This team will be back next year even better. They need one more attacking player to finish the puzzle. I am confident they will get it.
And Rosell and Joseph looked fantastic in the midfield. They weren't under a ton of pressure tonight from the defense, but they each showed a creative flair that has been missing. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them next season.