Timbers coach Spencer: Tired ref stunk, fouled up game
- Stephen Alexander
- Portland Tribune - Sports
MLS has a mandatory 15-minute 'cool-down period' after matches as of way of trying to prevent coaches and players from saying something to the media that they will regret.
It is hard to imagine that any amount of time would have kept Portland Timbers coach John Spencer from tearing into the officiating crew that oversaw the 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids Saturday night at Jeld-Wen Field.
Spencer was not concerned about the fine MLS undoubtedly will levy on him for his comments, either.
'You know, get my fine, I'll do the time, and we'll move on,' Spencer said.
As the match progressed, Spencer became increasingly upset with the foul calls of referee Abiodun Okulaja.
'The referee started to call innocuous fouls,' Spencer said. 'He was calling foul after foul and started calling more fouls as the game wore on."
Spencer said the portly Okulaja's fitness was the reason for the 13 fouls he called on Portland.
'He was getting tired,' Spencer said. 'The referee was getting tired. He couldn't cover the ground. And I said that to the fourth official, 'He can't cover the ground. He's blowing calls from 50 to 60 yards away.'
'Poor, poor performance by the referee. And I said to the fourth official, 'He's going to call a foul that's going to cost a goal.' '
Spencer's worst fear came to pass in the second minute of stoppage time, when defender Eric Brunner was called for a foul directly in front of the Timbers bench.
For Spencer, that was the final straw. He looked at the fourth official, Allen Chapman, put his fingers near his nose and said, 'You're having a stinker.'
That was the final straw for Chapman, as well. Chapman pulled Okulaja over to the sidelines. After a discussion, Spencer was ordered off the pitch.
Spencer thought as little of Chapman as he did of Okulaja.
'The fourth official, he's a nobody that's trying to be a somebody,' Spencer said. 'And he's a somebody tonight.'
Spencer had not even made his way off the pitch and into the tunnel beneath the stadium when Rapids defender Drew Moor knocked in a shot after a scramble near the goal.
'I saw the goal from the sidelines,' Spencer said. 'That's why I went a little bit crazy, because they gave a foul that I didn't think was a foul, and I know how dangerous they are. They've got big bodies on the team. It's a cruel game sometimes.'
Spencer said there is an injustice in MLS - that he was the one who had to stand before the media answering questions, while the officials rested in the confines of their locker room.
'You're going to send me off in the 92nd minute of the game?' he asked. 'I just voiced my opinion. This is a problem in the game. The referees make decisions that cost people their jobs. Yet they go back to their jobs Monday morning, everything is fine. They go back to their families with a smile on their face. But my job is on the line, as are a lot of other coaches in this league for guys that don't have to stand up and be held accountable.
'They should be standing up at press conferences in front of the cameras and giving reasons why they're making those decisions. Then maybe they might think twice about making those decisions in the future.'