Being a referee is a thankless job. It really is. When you have a great game, nobody mentions you. And when you have a bad game, you're all they can think of. But through all the hardship and the pain, referees occupy a pivotal role. They are the voice of authority, making on-the-fly decisions, charged with enforcing the Laws of the Game. They represent a neutral point of view, and they strive to be anonymous. At least they're supposed to.
Normally, we don't talk about the referees, but seeing as Edvin Jurisevic decided to put himself front and centre, we thought you might like to know a little about him.
Jurisevic is a 39-year old native of Omaha, Nebraska. He has been a member of the Professional Referee Organisation since 2008, and he made his Major League debut in a match between DC United and the then-Kansas City Wizards, who are now known as Sporting Kansas City. Some of his career highlights include overseeing a World Cup qualifier between the Cayman Islands and Suriname, two CONCACAF Champions League matches in 2012, and the 2013 Soccer Bowl.
If tonight is any indication of his ability as a match official, he can go ahead and have the above laminated. He won't be getting any prestige matches based on tonight's performance.
Now Jurisevic may in fact be a nice guy, he may well be a good official. We all have bad days, and we're going to hope that is all this is. Just one bad day at the office. That said, most of us don't set fire to the office when we're having a bad day.
Amusingly, Vancouver Manager Carl Robinson threw out an entirely different left side, with Jordan Harvey coming in for Sam Adekugbe, Deybi Flores getting his first start in place of Russell Teibert, and Kekuta Manneh getting the nod over Nicolás Mezquida.
Darren Mattocks had an impressive performance on Wednesday night against the Crew, where he assisted on Vancouver's first goal, and scored the second one himself. But tonight, he earned an early caution for what we can only assume Jurisevic saw as dangerous play. Mattocks' eyes were on the ball and he had every right to go for it, but when his arm went up, it caught Fatai Alashe on the chin.
It was the kind of situation where everyone could argue that they were in the right. There was no malice there. It was a legitimate accident and one that could not be avoided. As you leap up into the air, you need your arms to control it. It's only natural, and frankly, it would be unsafe to do otherwise. But he did catch Alashe on the chin. The midfield didn't have to embellish it quite as much as he did, but we're not surprised he did.
It was a bit harsh of Jurisevic to reach for his card quite that early. A talking to would have sufficed. But Jurisevic wanted to put his stamp on the game. And that would have been fine as long as he was consistent. But as you'll see, he was anything but.
Adam Jahn thought he had broken the deadlock in the 8th minute, but he was called offside and rightly so. Jordan Harvey and Pa Modou Kah didn't even try to stop him. Harvey put his arm up and stopped his run, knowing full well that Jahn was offside. Had Harvey tried to keep pace, he might not have gotten the call. It was a clever bit of defending, and the kind that only comes from experience.
In the 11th minute, David Bingham deliberately punched the ball while both the offending hand and the ball were outside of the box. He thought about it, hesitated, and when he realised the danger presented by Mattocks, he chose to punch the ball and hope for the best. He deliberated, considered his options, and made a decision.
And all it cost him was a yellow card. It was probably the right call, but it certainly didn't feel right in the moment.. Although there were no other defenders between Mattocks and the goal, it's hard to call that a goal scoring opportunity. It was going out of bounds. If it had been Octavio Rivero, then that would be different, but since it was Mattocks, we can grudgingly accept the yellow and the free kick. Mattocks was never going to play that ball.
It is strange that Jurisevic would treat Mattocks with such severity, and Bingham with such leniency. There cannot be one rule for some, and a different rule for others. Little did we know that it marked the start of one of the most inconsistently officiated matches that we have ever had the misfortune of bearing witness to.
That inconsistency continued when Fatai Alashe deliberately stepped into a Pedro Morales run, making no attempt to play the ball. He wanted to take out el Capitán, and he succeeded. But Jurisevic saw nothing wrong with that. We'd like to know why.
Seconds later, Kekuta Manneh tackled Matías Pérez García, winning the ball, but also getting a piece of the man. García went down as if he had been shot, and Manneh was issued a yellow card. Morales went ass-over-teakettle from García's impediment, and in the referee's opinion, that was fine. With refereeing like this, it's no wonder Vancouver is leading the league in cautions.
Later, Pa Modou Kah won the ball, but was still given a yellow card. There was nothing wrong with what Kah did. If he had it to do all over again with a different referee, Kah would have done it exactly the same way. And that's what's so troubling. It was becoming increasingly difficult to understand what was a cardable offence, and what wasn't.
But wait, there's more. In the dying seconds of the first half, Jurisevic was in the better position to judge whether the ball had gone out for a San Jose corner, or a Vancouver goal kick. But instead of making the decision himself, he looked the linesman, and only then did he award the goal kick to Vancouver. If Jurisevic were a player, his manager would have made a change at half time.
After the break, Kendall Waston was very much a force to be reckoned with, throwing himself at the ball whenever it came near him. On Wednesday, we wondered how he'd be feeling after the adrenaline wore off. He had after all fallen onto his head. But he showed no ill effects from that awkwardly landing tonight.
Not long after, Deybi Flores joined Mattocks, Bingham, Manneh, and Kah among the growing list of players who had earned yellow cards this evening. In Jurisevic's defence, Flores did commit a foul, we just feel that it was harsh to issue a yellow as well as the free kick.
In the 68th minute, Russell Teibert resumed his role alongside Matías Laba after Flores came off. Teibert's exclusion from the starting eleven had nothing to do with his performances this season, and everything to do with squad rotation. Robinson wanted to get Flores some more minutes, and Teibert was the odd man out. Tonight's action will serve Flores well in the weeks and months to come.
Neither side looked like scoring. It was a choppy match, filled with poor passes, and poor decisions. But you don't have to play well to get your team onto the score sheet. Sometimes it just takes a good shot. Sanna Nyassi put the Earthquakes on the board in the 75th minute.
You may remember Nyassi for briefly being a member of the Whitecaps, all the way back in 2010. Vancouver took him with the second pick in the 2010 expansion draft, but immediately proceeded to send him to Colorado Rapids SC in exchange for an international slot through to the end of the 2031 season.
Nyassi may have left the Mile High City, but Vancouver still have that international slot, and they've used it to great effect. With an eye towards changing the game, Robinson replaced Matías Laba, one of Vancouver's many internationals, with the more offensively minded Kianz Froese.
Froese has had some good play this year, and at times, he has provided a spark. But it was not to be. Instead, the match was thrown into chaos thanks to a double red card. Besides Jurisevic's performance, that may be the thing we all remember.
Russell Teibert fouled Adam Jahn in the 86th minute. It was probably worth a yellow card. He kicked Jahn's shin. But the man known as the Canadian Soccer Jesus managed to escape without incident. After that, Pedro Morales tried to kick the ball out from under Jahn, who lay on the ground. Jahn reacted by kicking Pedro Morales.
And that's when both Morales and Jahn received straight red cards. For Jahn, it was his first ejection of the season. But for Morales, it was the first of his career. Before tonight, Morales had never been sent off. Not for accumulation of yellow cards, and not directly. And we're still not sure why he was sent off. Was it for kicking the ball, or for being upset when Jahn kicked him?
Whether or not Morales wins his inevitable appeal, and we think he whould, he still had to leave the pitch tonight, and Vancouver crashed to their second defeat of the season. But before the final whistle was blew, Kendall Waston earned his fourth yellow card of the season.
That's four yellow cards in seven matches. One more and he'll face an automatic suspension. But there was nothing there. He leapt up into the air and caught Clarence Goodson in the face. Waston did not see Goodson, Watson's eyes were fixed on the ball. Goodson came up from behind him.
Like Mattock's incident in the 3rd minute, there was contact, but there was no malice. There was no intent. It was an accident, and it was unavoidable. In football, there's going to be contact, and sometimes that contact comes at an inappropriate location. It can't be helped. But it does not, in and of itself, warrant a caution. It was not dangerous play. It was routine play.
But the sad truth of it is, no matter how much we may want to blame Jurisevic for his officiating, he didn't really change the game. You might focus on the yellow card to Bingham in the 11th minute, but that was probably fair.
When Morales went off, Vancovuer were already trailing, and Jahn was given his walking papers too, so there was balance.
The fact is, Vancouver played their worst match of the season. They were awful, and they deserved to lose. We're not sure if San Jose deserved to win, but we didn't do enough here tonight. And if we play like this against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, they will have a field day.
Hopefully the Caps can recover some of the form they showed against Galaxy. They always do seem to rise to the level of their opponent. But as they showed here tonight, sometimes they lower themselves too.
After the visit to Utah, Vancouver returns home for a tilt with DC United on April 25th, but before that, the reserves will enjoy their inaugural match at Thunderbird Stadium when they host Toronto FC II on April 19th.
And we'd like to thank Maciek Gudrymowicz of Center Line Soccer for providing us with photos of the match.