In the moments after he appeared to miss a handball in the penalty box late in Saturday’s Houston-Sporting Kansas City match, referee Jorge Gonzalez did not admit to his mistake.
But the league did.
After the missed call denied Sporting KC the chance to convert a potential game-winning penalty kick during stoppage time, coach Peter Vermes said he contacted Major League Soccer in search of further explanation.
“It was explained to me unequivocally that it was, 100 percent, a handball,” Vermes said Tuesday.
The play in dispute occurred in the 94th minute of a 1-1 draw Saturday, when a throw-in from Sporting KC defender Matt Besler struck Houston midfielder Luis Garrido in the right arm. Gonzalez opted against whistling a penalty kick.
It wasn’t the missed call that bothered Vermes most.
It was the lack of admission for it.
After questioning the call on the field, Besler said Gonzalez “told me he judged it to hit his hip.” Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber also said Gonzalez gestured that the ball hit Garrido’s hip rather than his arm.
After the match, Gonzalez stuck to his call — but he used different reasoning. In response to a pool reporter’s questions after the match, Gonzalez replied, in writing, “It was judged not to be deliberate.”
“The part that I dislike is that even after the referee saw it on video after the game, he still stuck with his original call,” Vermes said. “I don’t understand how you can sit there and say you didn’t see it even after (replay). At some point, you have to sit back and admit it.”