The Full 90

There’s a sour history between Sporting KC and referee Jair Marrufo

Referee Jair Marrufo, who showed a yellow card to Los Angeles’ Jelle van Damme during a game earlier this month, should have ejected a Sporting Kansas City opponent in Sunday’s game, MLS said.
Referee Jair Marrufo, who showed a yellow card to Los Angeles’ Jelle van Damme during a game earlier this month, should have ejected a Sporting Kansas City opponent in Sunday’s game, MLS said. The Associated Press

On Sunday afternoon in San Jose, referee Jair Marrufo blew his whistle to signal the conclusion of an MLS match, and then he swiftly darted toward the exit. He appeared to be in such a hurry to leave the field that it made for an awkward moment with Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, who had stuck out his hand for a handshake.

It was a bit of a fitting end to a day Marrufo would like to forget.

Marrufo became the center of attention in the game for his failure to award Sporting KC a penalty kick in the 55th minute, despite San Jose defender Andres Imperiale tripping Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer in the penalty box. Both clubs’ coaches said they viewed the play as penalty-worthy.

On Wednesday, the MLS disciplinary committee ruled that Marrufo made another error in the first half when he called Imperiale for a common foul against Dwyer. The disciplinary committee ruled Imperiale should have been ejected for the play in the 33rd minute, and it retroactively suspended him for one match.

In a postgame call Sunday, Vermes voiced his displeasure with Marrufo’s performance but added that he was “most disappointed” with “the level of arrogance ... from the referee.”

But is it an isolated incident?

The numbers seem tosuggest otherwise.

Sporting Kansas City has won only one of its past 13 matches in which Marrufo has served as the center referee. It has compiled a 1-8-4 record in a stretch that dates to Oct. 16, 2010.

Sporting KC has made the playoffs in every year since 2011, totaling 1.6 points per match since the start of that season. Its record with Marrufo during that same time frame is 1-7-4.

For comparison’s sake, here is Sporting Kansas City’s record since the start of 2011 with the referees assigned to MLS matches this week (minimum of three matches):

Edvin Jurisevic: 8-2-2 (2.17 points per match)

Ismail Elfath: 5-2-0 (2.14 PPM)

Baldomero Toledo: 10-3-4 (2.00 PPM)

Juan Guzman: 4-3-0 (1.71 PPM)

Chris Penso: 5-3-2 (1.70 PPM)

Silviu Petrescu: 2-0-4 (1.67 PPM)

Ricardo Salazar: 2-3-2 (1.14 PPM)

Armando Villarreal: 3-5-4 (1.08 PPM)

Fotis Bazakos: 1-2-1 (1.00 PPM)

Jair Marrufo: 1-7-4 (0.58 PPM)

Asked about the club’s history with Marrufo in a phone interview Tuesday, Vermes said the club has moved on from Sunday’s match, and he has turned his attention to Wednesday’s game in Vancouver.

Armando Villarreal will man the middle Wednesday night in Vancouver.

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