We’re now 3/4 of the way through this short season, and I have been delinquent in posting. Work, grad school, normal life… all excuses I know. But here’s a quick review of the season to this point:
After the decisiveg performance in the home opener, GRFC has struggled to close games. A 0-0 draw at home against bottom of the table Eagles was a disappointment, especially as GRFC turned in another dominating performance. The next match, a friendly against MPSL club FC Force also ended in a 2-2 draw after GRFC gave up the lead late in the second half. Travelling away the next week to Ann Arbor saw another 0-0 result against a much improved AFCAA side. A convincing 4-1 win at home against Lansing United the day after the AFCAA match was a nice solace, but not particularly meaningful as both clubs primarily played reserves.
Then there was last weeks home foray versus GLPL undefeated league leaders RWB Adria which was nothing short of a disaster. After going up 1-0 early and playing Adria toe-to-toe, GRFC suffered a redcard less than 30 minutes into the match. From the stands it seemed a harsh call, but I’ll give the referee the benefit of the doubt as he was much closer to the play. GRFC managed to play the next 20 minutes very evenly despite being a man down, but Adria found the net in stoppage time of the first half to even the score.
The second half quickly got chippy, and as soon as it was clear the referee wasn’t going to call a thing against Adria they increasingly began to take shots at the GRFC players. This escalated until an Adria player two handed shoved a GRFC player directly in front of the referee which nearly led to a brawl on the field. In the midst of the chaos which happened directly in front of the home stands, an Adria player ran into the fray and kidney punched Kosti Moni from behind. As Kosti was protesting to the referee, he was then shoved again right in front of the referee’s face. Despite this blatant misconduct, the referee only issued a single yellow to Adria for the initial foul.
Taken on its own, I can see not issuing a red for these. But given the red on GRFC in the first half, not issuing a 2nd yellow for the shove – or a red for the other shove – is blatantly inconsistent. Unfortunately, the rest of the match was more of the same including a vicious tackle on Moni in the penalty box which would have been called a PK even under CONCACAF conditions.
Adria sealed the game with a second goal, and scored their third in stoppage time on an open net after GRFC sent everyone (including the goalkeeper) forward on a last stitch corner kick. Giving the finger to the home supporters was icing on the cake for the Adria forward who seemed to be celebrating as if he had dribbled through 5 defenders to score.
All in all I felt GRFC played extremely well given the circumstances, and I’m proud of their performance in spite of the loss. I’m also galled that Adria knocked us out of contention for the league title in such a fashion.
While the league is not even a season old, I hope some of these incidents will be valuable for the off-season planning of season two. Hopefully a referee liaison can be established, as well as a league disciplinary board to deal with blatant and violent misconduct. I might also add that to date there is still no resolution to the Oakland v Adia match that was rained out and which contains title implications for the winner. I was hopeful that the Red Arrow group that seemed to be involved in managing the league would help arbitrate & structure the league, but as far as I can tell (Disclaimer: I am involved in no official capacity with the league or GRFC) Red Arrow doesn’t seem to be doing a whole lot.
On a positive note, if the team from Toledo is accepted to the league for next year, it will give us GRFC supporters a team from Ohio to hate on.