The USL has acknowledged that a player should have been sent off after receiving a second yellow card in Wednesday’s Sounders 2 match. While that may seem like grounds for some sort of replay of what turned out to be a 1-0 victory for Phoenix Rising, the only punishment handed down will be for the refs working the game to be suspended.
The incident in question happened in the 60th minute when Victor Vasquez was clearly shown a second yellow card. The announcers on the livestream immediately recognized it and the official box score even correctly identified him. Neither head referee Katja Koroleva or any of her assistants apparently realized it, though. Phoenix’s coaching staff, perhaps fearing that it was only a matter of time until the error was discovered, removed Vasquez from the match in the 62nd minute.
Sounders 2 midfielder Jordy Delem was not so lucky, though, as he picked up his second yellow in the 64th minute and was ejected. So instead of potentially playing the final 30-odd minutes a man up, S2 played the final 26 minutes a man down.
While this at least opens the door for some sort of replay, the USL will instead go with the path of least resistance and accept the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision to simply suspend the match officials for an indefinite period. Vasquez will also be suspended for Phoenix’s next game.
That there’s no promise to make the findings of their investigation public further twists the knife, not that there’s much hope of them discovering anything beyond “we messed up.”
This is hardly the first time an error like this has ever happened. Most prominently, referee Graham Poll eventually showed Croatia’s Josip Šimunić three yellow cards before sending him off in a 2006 World Cup match against Australia. The second of those cards, though, came in the 90th minute and Australia was still able to advance beyond the group stage. If they had lost and failed to advance, it was speculated that they would have had grounds for an appeal. Interestingly, PRO’s Kevin Stott was the fourth official in that match.
In 2012, referee Mick Russell showed two yellows to Sheffield Wednesday’s Jeremy Helan without sending him off. That match ended in a 0-0 tie and was not replayed, although Russell apparently apologized to the Huddersfield Town coach after the match.