Crew Cuts: S[crew]ed by the refs

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Thanks to yet another bye week, the Crew hasn't played in nearly two weeks, which might be almost long enough to wash the foul taste of their April 10 contest at FC Dallas from their mouths.

The 2-2 draw was rife with controversy. First, midfielder Eddie Gaven had to be subbed out after an elbow to the face bloodied his mouth. No foul was called on the play.

More crucially, Dallas' quick restart and an apparent handball in stoppage time led directly to Eric Avila's tying goal. William Hesmer raced out of the net to protest. Danny O'Rourke was so furious that he earned a red card for abusive gesture and thus will miss Saturday's match versus defending MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake.

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced last week that referee Jasen Anno committed a major error by letting Dallas take the quick restart that led to Avila's goal, confirming gripes among Columbus players and fans that the team got screwed. The announcement doesn't do much good for Columbus, though. They still don't get back two points in the standings, and O'Rourke remains suspended for Saturday.

In honor of this egregious display, let's look back at some other outrageous officiating decisions surrounding the Crew over the years.

March 25, 2000

This time, the error benefited Columbus. Back in Coach Robert Warzycha's playing days, he was known as "The Polish Rifle" for his powerful free kicks. He showed his mettle by scoring the game-winner in the Crew's home opener as the final seconds of overtime ticked away. But San Jose partisans wondered whether Warzycha should have been on the pitch at all after his handball on the goal line at the end of regulation.

Aug. 3, 2005

FC Dallas was visiting for a U.S. Open Cup match at Jesse Owens Stadium. In non-sudden-death overtime, the Crew was whistled for a penalty kick on a call so sketchy even Dallas Coach Colin Clarke admitted it didn't merit a penalty.

Eddie Johnson converted the PK for a 2-1 lead. Then Crew midfielder Danny Szetela received a red card for a routine challenge. Again, Clarke said Szetela didn't deserve to be ejected. An angry Frankie Hejduk got tossed three minutes later, and Dallas scored an insurance goal to win 3-1.

Sept. 15, 2007

A phantom stoppage-time penalty call on the Crew's Stefani Miglioranzi led to a yet another controversial PK conversion by longtime Columbus nemesis Eddie Johnson and a 3-2 victory for Kansas City. Crew Coach Sigi Schmid later called this loss, which effectively deep-sixed the 2007 season, his most frustrating coaching memory.

April 25, 2009

Referee Jair Marrufo ejected Crew defender Gino Padula for lightly grazing Cuauhtemoc Blanco's thigh, a questionable call that got a lot more fishy when fans spotted Marrufo accepting the Chicago midfielder's jersey as a gift after the match. Marrufo was later suspended by the league.

Columbus Crew vs. Real Salt Lake

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 24

Where: Crew Stadium, North Side