Mark Geiger. That’s a name that we all know too well and we will get to see front and center this weekend when he will be the referee in the upcoming Cascadia Cup clash between the Sounders and Portland Timbers.
After apparently hitting his peak in 2014 and being awarded the honor of officiating several FIFA World Cup games, Geiger’s hasn’t seemed to be the same as his officiating has been inconsistent to say the least.
The Sounders saw him twice last year, both losses. The first came on March 19 when the Sounders hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps. Vancouver was awarded two penalties in that game by Geiger. Two penalties that more than likely shouldn’t have been called once you review the tape. (We got the receipts, in case you’re interested.)
I feel it is important to go back and look at Realio’s ratings from that game. He was given a 2 from Realio and 1.7 from the community. Here is what was said by Realio, about Geiger.
Matt Geiger - 2 | Community - 1.7
I debated the 1 here. The reason I didn't give it was Geiger made a number of good calls and kept up with play well. This wasn't a Daniel Radford level ****show, but let's face it, he drastically affected the entire score line and 90% of the gameplay due to poor officiating.
He correctly called a foul on Perez after the play for cleaning out Scott in the 6th minute. I thought the yellow cards on Rivero and Mears were reasonable. At times the advantage play was correct and yet, literally everything else in my book was negative.
I think that Geiger is completely caught up in his own hype. He got the reputation at some point as a referee not afraid to make the "tough" call, and I think this creates a situation where he feels the need to make big calls, and in pressure situations like Century Link simply fails. It makes him miss many smaller fouls if players fail to sell them. Geiger is especially susceptible to dives as he is looking to make that game-defining call. A hard foul in the middle of the field is ignored, yet a softer play in the box is a PK or Red Card immediately.
A perfect example of this was in the 9th minute when the ref failed to call a foul against Bolaños for undercutting Jones, who to his credit plays through the foul. This is further compounded when he rushes to call a penalty when there was no contact. Where is the AR on that side to help with this call? More evidence was the number of times that Fraser Aird was allowed to continually hack and foul persistently without a caution, especially an awful 20th minute tackle that illustrates my above point about location; it was eerily similar to the Marshall challenge that later was worthy of a penalty yet wasn't even called as a foul. Then he later deliberately checked Ivanschitz on the sideline well after the ball was away - yellow on AI of course.
The second half wasn't any better. Manneh most certainly should have seen Orange for his 56th minute challenge on Mears, had Tyrone stayed in he could have had his leg broken (NO CALL... RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE AR). I thought that Scott being called for a foul over the back in the 72nd was iffy at best, especially since by that point Perez had simply stopped going for headers and was only looking for contact like he got for his PK. Obviously Geiger rushes to give this second penalty, and then awards a half assed make up yellow for Perez in the 83rd. I have no idea why Matias Laba gets a free kick when he tries to do a diving header at Andreas' knee height and Ivanschitz pulls his foot back. I am not even going to get into the Waston two handed shove on Valdez that didn't get carded when he makes ZERO play on the ball.
Games shouldn't be dominated by a referee. Changing the entire game state so early off a bad call was horrible; doing it again late was just unforgivable. Geiger should be ashamed by this outing.
The second came seven month later when the Sounders were playing FC Dallas on Oct. 16. I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember much about this game other than it being Brian Schmetzer’s second loss since he was named interim coach way back in July. I do remember a Herculez Gomez goal being called back from a “foul.” Once again, he was given a 2 by Realio and 2.3 by the community.
Here is what Realio had to say.
Mark Geiger – 2 | Community – 2.3
Look, we have all hammered Geiger this week and it’s obvious he was poor, not just for taking away a legit goal, but because the way he reffed facilitated that sort of call. He failed to protect players, like Nico being crushed behind the play in the 5th minute, without a card given, but then called inconsistent touch fouls like the Gomez foul that led to Dallas’ first goal. Speaking of that foul, none of that play would have even happened had Geiger done the correct thing in the THIRD minute. By that I mean carding Hollingshead for blatant simulation and attempting to bait the ref into a penalty kick. Giving the necessary card there likely stops Hollingshead from diving late when touched by Gomez. Giving Seitz the benefit of the doubt when it was HE who was fouling Torres was more obviously game impactful, but just as equally blatant.
See, that’s my issue with Geiger: his refusal to make the important calls early add up huge influences on the game late. If Acosta is given a yellow for his cynical 18th minute foul on Lodeiro, maybe Roldan doesn’t hip check the Dallas player in the 28th, which led to him being subbed 10 minutes later, and most likely Cristian isn’t receiving a similar foul in the 46th. Not whistling for the 51st minute Nico/Diaz tangle led directly to Roldan and Urruti tangling and when Nico again got involved he called a foul, but only after some very dangerous kicks were delivered and arms precariously swung around. Why was the play allowed to get to that point that almost got people sent off? This is about cleaning up the root cause so those early small things don’t come home to roost late.
It’s allowing Morris to undercut Matt Hedges without making any play on the ball, yet calling a foul on Zimmerman when he and Flaco went up on a fair 50/50 header and he won, and Fernandez went flying. It’s Lodeiro receiving six fouls (four called) in the first half - most of which were hard, through the ball, and intentional - without protection. It’s about Rosales coming in and not only committing four fouls but receiving multiple ones as well. After allowing Gomez to get kicked in the side early (46’) by Akindele without a card for dangerous play, you then change the entire game because when Gruezo also performed a blatant high kick in the 81st which would have been a sending off for second yellow; Geiger set a precedent to let it go with just a foul. While Seattle likely has an easier time holding onto vital point(s?) with a man advantage, don’t forget you are also helping prevent PEOPLE GETTING KICKED IN THE FACE.
Geiger was awful.
Is it too much to ask for to see the Geiger from 2014 and before and not from 2015 to present? Let’s hope that he calls it even on both sides of the ball.