What is it with this guy? The Sounders hate him. The Timbers hate him. I'm not sure there is a fanbase in MLS that doesn't have some horrific call or non-call they associate Ricardo Salazar with.
if you asked me to name a referee who officiates MLS games, Ricardo Salazar is the only name I'd be able to spit out at moment's notice. I believe there are thousands of fans exactly like me in that sense. This is not a good thing for a referee.
Ricardo Salazar's name is probably more recognized than some of the better MLS players. When you're talking referees, name recognition is not a good thing. Refs don't develop fame by calling good games. Officials who are consistent, who recognize the plays that deserve cards and ignore the ones that don't, never get a second notice. They remain in the background as facilitators and moderators to the cause of the beautiful game.
Ricardo Salazar is not one of these.
I don't understand how the level of refereeing can be SO bad from the US Soccer Federation (USSF). Referees routinely fail to maintain control of games. When they do try to wrest control, they often make headlines for showing the wrong cards to the wrong players at the wrong times.
The officiating in MLS is a disaster. It is the biggest stain on MLS. It is the biggest barrier to quality football in America---even bigger than the salary cap, in my opinion. While many quality players have come to our league in recent years, one can't help but wonder how many more DON'T come because they know their career might be put in jeopardy by stray elbows.
It's time for something to be done. Maybe current efforts to improve the quality of refereeing just need more time. But I can't help but think that the positive tools being given to referees to help them improve their performances need to be offset by more accountability. I can't help but feel that United States referees who develop reputations in the worst possible ways have too much job security.
I have watched enough European matches to think I am right in concluding that it isn't simply an illusion that refereeing in MLS is drastically below the level of officiating in Europe. I would argue that the disparity in officiating quality is even greater than the disparity in player quality. In a league that has built itself on speed, physicality and athleticism over the past decade, and is now beginning to grow the much-needed technical side, this is a HUGE problem.
MLS is moving forward rapidly in quality of play, but the quality of officiating threatens that. It's sickening to continue to see technically brilliant players from abroad arrive in MLS only to get taken out by hacks whose only tools of success are elbows, jersey grabs, shoves, and bearhugs. It's sickening to see teams like Sporting Kansas City and Houston infuse their possession-oriented attacks with dangerous tackles, bone-rattling collisions on 50/50 balls, and swinging elbows and forearms in the air because, hey, they work!
Too many players get injured too often in MLS. The excessive physicality needs to end, but it can't without referees who know how to manage it properly.
What better way to infuse our US refereeing situation with some accountablity, than to fire a guy who has turned himself into a national celebrity among American soccer fans for his controversial calls and mind-blowingly ridiculous non-calls?
It's time for MLS fans to tell the USSF:
RICARDO SALAZAR OUT!