UPDATE: Caleb Porter, as well as Timbers owner Merritt Paulson, were fined undisclosed amounts for criticizing officials.
No one is going to come away from Sunday's match and think "oh man, that was a wonderfully refereed match." There's certainly an argument to be had about the penalty. Some will tell you that Adam Kawarasey had a right for the ball and that Obafemi Martins ran into him. Others will suggest that it should have been a red card on Kawarasey.
There were plenty of examples of fouls missed, softer plays that were called. Referee Alan Kelly was far from perfect.
But was he off-the-charts bad? Did the match ever seem totally out of control? Were there a bunch of obvious calls that were wrong? Not from where I sat.
Of course, Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter saw it a bit different and he wanted the world to know in his comments following Sunday's loss to the Seattle Sounders.
"Our plan was to come in and go toe to toe with them," Porter told reporters. "I thought we did that and were far and away the better team. I thought the official was very poor. I'll stick with the theme of coaches complaining this week. The reality is I call a spade a spade and the official was very poor today."
Porter was particularly upset with the Sounders' goals, which he felt came against the run of play and were the beneficiary of bad and/or non-calls.
"I thought the first [goal] was a bit unfortunate," he said. "There may have been a couple fouls in there. We have to do better and clear the ball as well. That was the first time they really smelled our goal. They had nothing. I can't even remember one time during the game when they broke us down. Their high-powered, big-budget team had trouble. They couldn't create much on us and they get out of this game with three points off of a poor first goal and then a PK."
If you're thinking to yourself "wait, I don't remember any foul-like plays on the Sounders' first goal," you're probably not alone. Here it is again, in case you're curious:
Not much there, but let's not get bogged down in Porter's comment on that. He was just warming up.
"Like I said, I'm sticking with the theme of we're coaches, we're all ambassadors for MLS and want the game to grow, but I thought the game was very poorly managed by the official," he said. "And he's an experienced guy, but he seemed to be sleepwalking through the game. It wasn't anything where he was biased toward one team or another or unethical, I just thought that he was very poor.
"Just like coaches have poor games and players have poor games - he had a poor game. It seemed like he wasn't ready for the intensity, wasn't ready for the magnitude of the game, kind of strolled around and just didn't seem like there was any consistency in the foul recognition. That's the frustrating thing. When you go into a game, officials see things differently, but you get a sense right away of what's a foul and you can kind of adjust to that. I have no idea what a foul was today. No idea. Some were hard fouls not called, light fouls called. For me, it seemed like it got away from him.
"He probably knows it as well, but there needs to be some accountability. We're all under pressure to perform and the officials need to be under pressure as well. I hope Peter Walton is watching this game. We've come up with this great organization PRO, but I hope that we're evolving and growing these officials and that we're not turning a blind eye to their poor performances. In this game, with two good teams, rivalry game, a lot at stake, we need a better referee. Like I said, I think he is a good official based on the games I've watched in the past, but today, he was very poor."