In the matches last Saturday there were two instances where I asked myself if MLS has a “Superstar” problem. What I mean by superstar problem is that internationally recognized stars getting calls because they are stars. I will discuss two cases this past weekend.
The first happened in the NYCFC versus Seattle match. History was waiting to be made for David Villa. He was one goal away from attaining his 50th goal. Villa got the ball in the box and it was tackled away, legally I might add, but Villa went to ground and the referee pointed to the spot where Villa converted. The problem was is that Villa went to ground on his own. The tackle got all ball and no man. Every angle confirmed this and I’m not sure how the referee came to the decision he did, other than “it’s David Villa and he gets calls”.
The second was a non-call in the New England versus Chicago match. There is a special emphasis this year on set pieces and the muggings that go on inside the box. New England won a corner kick and Sebastian Schweinsteiger was marking Kei Kamara. Schweinsteiger took Kamara down, twisting him awkwardly in the process and in front of the referee and no call. Again, every angle I saw clearly showed a penalty. Again it seemed to be that because it was Schweinsteiger no foul was committed.
I’ve noticed this before, but maybe I need to pay more attention to it and see if there really is a problem with Superstars getting the benefit of the doubt more so than other players. If it can be shown that there is partiality, then training needs to occur and the partiality needs to be curtailed.