Ref Grady is taken to task for four red cards issued to United, Fusion.By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service
(Tuesday, August 24, 1999) -- Major League Soccer has in effect verbally disciplined referee Rich Grady, saying he was going too much "strictly by the book," culminating when he issued four red cards in last Saturday night's Miami Fusion-D.C. United match.
Joe Machnik, vice president for game operations, said during a teleconference call today that the official was reviewing the tape of the game with United States Soccer Federation director of referees Esse Baharmast. "It is our hope we won't have another game like this," he said of the FIFA-licensed official.
Grady has issued the most ejections, 20, in 36 games in MLS' four seasons, and also leads in yellow caution cards, with 162 -- averaging 0.56 and 4.50 per match. "Handing out cards is one way of controlling a game," Machnik said. "Man managing and people skills also can be used . . . We want to bring Rich closer to the middle."
Percentage-wise, he is No. 2 in red cards and yellow cards, behind Ricardo Valenzuela, who has 8 and 52, respectively, in 11 matches -- an average of 0.73 and 4.73.
Players complained in the Miami-D.C. United game that the infractions at most merited yellow cards, not expulsion. Critics say that some officials are over-reacting to Major League Soccer's concerns about overly rough play -- and are creating inconsistencies in particular with their calls on tackles from behind that are not endangering a player's safety.
Other highlights today:
* Overtime periods are not likely for the playoffs, except for the championship game, according to MLS vice president of operations and player relations Ivan Gazidis. He cited "considerations," presumably television, which means that draws will continue to be decided by shootouts. MLS is considering abolishing them next year, but there had been speculation MLS would do it for this fall's playoffs.
* MLS is considering "tweaking" its foreign player definition rule, and perhaps eliminating the clause that partially identifies one as a person not eligible to play for the United States national team because he played for another country. Jeff Cunningham, a U.S. citizen and a reserve forward for the Columbus Crew, debuted for Jamaica earlier this month in a pair of international matches in Africa. He has not been counted as a foreigner in MLS.
* Foreign teams are continuing to express interest in Columbus forward Stern John of Trinidad & Tobago. MLS officials declined to comment on reports they have set a $2 million transfer fee. "We'd love for him to stay . . . but he is young (22) and has ambitions, and we will not stand in his way," Gazidis said. "It's a fluid, dynamic situation right now ... "
He led MLS in scoring last year with 26 goals, five assists, and 51 points. He is No. 3 this summer, with 16 goals, two assists, and 34 points. Top transfer fee earned by Major League Soccer so far was "in excess" of $1 million for South African forward Shaun Bartlett, paid by F.C. Zurich (Switzerland).
Here are figures for cards issued by referees who have worked 10 or more matches in MLS’ four-year regular-season history. To date, MLS has played 653 regular-season games.
Referee: Games-Cautions-Per Game
Totals for all MLS regular-season games: 653-2075-3.18
Referee: Games-Reds Cards-Per Game
Totals for all MLS regular season games: 653-178-0.27
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.