Mark Geiger managed 80 games, handing out 13 red cards and 26 penalty kicks prior to yesterday’s Philadelphia Union and San Jose Earthquakes game. By the time he whistled for the end of the match, one of each was added to his career tallies.
In a league where referees have been the focal point of criticism since its inception, and the majority of this season, it seems almost idiotic that the level of officiating is left to rot at such a low standard. The problem starts at the top of the United States soccer pyramid, with the United States Soccer Federation.
The USSF is the entity that controls the majority of the referee functions in American soccer and it is the problem. MLS suffers because of it.
Which brings this discussion to Geiger.
No matter how a person looks at the game that was played last night at PPL Park, the refereeing was downright awful. Call Jordan Harvey‘s red card deserved or ridiculous, call the penalty kick call not a hand ball or completely correct, Geiger lost complete control of the match multiple times.
That lack of controlled changed the flow of the game. Yet the most telling portion of his poor approach to reffing was not in his red card decision or pointing to the spot. It was a completely different incident.
Faryd Mondragon‘s showdown with Brandon McDonald, of the Earthquakes, was a microcosm of the night for Geiger. Instead of diffusing the situation at the beginning, by warning both parties and telling everyone to continue play, he instead let Mondragon and McDonald get into a shouting match that resulted in both teams coming together en masse. The end result was two yellows (one for each player) for Unsporting Behavior. McDonald should have in the very least received a yellow for Delay of Game, along the lines of what Bobby Convey was cautioned for in the 60th minute.
In the end, the game speaks to the overall problems that reffing in MLS has had this season. It's also not the first time that a group of Philadelphia fans has been frustrated with someone in sports with the last name of Geiger.