Blaming the referee for a loss is a pretty weak excuse. Barring gross incompetence, a good team can often overcome a handful of questionable calls. And while the Seattle Sounders have plenty of areas where they can say "we should have done better" in their 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, Mark Geiger's performance deserves a long look from PRO's review board.
The penalty he awarded in the 9th minute was absolutely inexcusable. Christian Bolanos goes down without any contact, clearly tripping himself in the box. No matter, Geiger awarded a penalty.
Then, after the Sounders had grabbed all the momentum and equalized on a wonderful Andreas Ivanschitz free kick, Geiger bailed out the Whitecaps again. This time it was known con-artist Blas Perez running away from the path of the ball to go into the path of Chad Marshall's tackle. It was a blatant attempt to draw a penalty and Geiger fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Now, it should be said that the Sounders didn't do themselves many favors. They dominated possession (more than 60 percent) and fired off 19 shots (including eight in the penalty area) but rarely forced David Ousted to do anything remotely difficult. They had a great look at a Chad Marshall header from a Ivanschitz free kick, Clint Dempsey put Jordan Morris through on a ball from the wing and Dempsey got an open look from about 14 yards out, but none of them created too much trouble. Ousted had the post well covered on Marshall's header, Morris shot was from a tough angle and was right at the goalkeeper and Dempsey just flat out missed his golden opportunity at a late equalizer.
The Whitecaps didn't really test Frei either, but they didn't have to. Their chances come from the spot and deserved or not, count just the same.
It all leaves the Sounders 0-3 for the first time in their MLS history. All three losses have been by one goal, late goals and involved questionable referee decisions -- there was a red card against Sporting Kansas City, the dive that set up Real Salt Lake's winner and these two penalties.
There were positives in the Sounders' general play, but that won't do much to salve the wounds as they head into a bye week needing a victory in a very bad way.