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11/21/17 Columbus v. Toronto Referees

Pro Referees announced the MLS Conference Finals referee assignments. On November 21, 2017, the referee team at MAPFRE Stadium for the first leg of Columbus v. Toronto is:

REF: ROBERT SIBIGA
AR1: Peter Manikowski
AR2: Ian Anderson
4TH: Jose Carlos Rivero
VAR: Dave Gantar

Robert Sibiga is an interesting choice to be the man the middle at this stage considering his first MLS match was in 2015. Sibiga is the official who gave Conor Casey a red card in Philadelphia when he had just been subbed on for… well, nobody is sure what it was for.

The presentation of red to Casey displays the kind of arrogant charge up I’ve seen before from Sibiga. I was watching an NCAA men’s soccer game and he charged up to chastise one of the coaches. At a college soccer match.

When Casey was shown red, the “offended” player looked bewildered about the call.

As a surprise to nobody, that card was later rescinded.

I don’t usually keep tabs on Assistant Referees except for the hilarious and engaging Corey Rockwell and Corey Parker, he of “Not Knowing When Ball is Out of Bounds” lore. Corey Parker won MLS Assistant Referee of the Year this year. So maybe we’ll see him at the Final in Columbus again?

Typically, the Fourth Official doesn’t have much to do except hold up the substitution/extra time board and keep the peace between benches. However, at the last game at MAPFRE Stadium, center official Alan Kelly was subbed off at half time due to illness. (The story attached to the tweet seems to have disappeared. Maybe it was because substitute Ismail Elfath showed a NYCFC player a red card, showing how lucky the Crew are.) So, it’s worth noting who the Fourth Official is. In this case, it’s Jose Carlos Rivera, a referee who was charged with felonies for fraud. As a lawyer, I understand the concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” and I don’t know the outcome of Mr. Rivera’s case, but that doesn’t help with my efforts to feed conspiracy theories, does it?

Finally, we get to the Video Assistant Referee who is Dave Gantar. The VAR has a lot of power. He can tell the referee whether a play should be reviewed. In this case, the VAR will provide a nice balance to the deck stacked against Columbus. Kurt Larson, TFC homer—er, I mean journalist—hates Dave Gantar.

Anyway, you get the point. Getting back to conspiracy theories, Gantar was probably named so when he recommends a bad call in favor of Toronto, Mr. Larson won’t blame the ref.

Hopefully we aren’t still talking about the referees on November 22, 2017. Instead, we will be talking about our deserved 4-0 victory. We’re not done yet. Tell everyone you know. #SaveTheCrew

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