KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Three days after Sporting Kansas City's 2-1 away-leg loss in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the New England Revolution, manager Peter Vermes still wasn't over being upset by the officiating.
And after losing a late-season hero for Wednesday's home leg (8 pm ET, MLS Live), the result of a bad foul in stoppage time in Saturday's match, Vermes made a grim, intense promise during Tuesday's news conference.
If Sporting feel the officials aren't controlling the game, he said, “Those things wil be dealt with over the course of the match. There's no doubt about it in my mind.”
Vermes wouldn't elaborate on that statement, or on an earlier one in which he said that, “we're going to have to take matters into our own hands,” if necessary.
“It's for you to watch the game and see,” he said. “It's not for me to talk about those things, because our players are fully aware what they've got to do. In this one, I'm not tipping my hand or anything. We're going to this game to be very hungry to go play, and we'll see.”
Those remarks followed Vermes' contention on Saturday that officials missed an offside call on New England's first goal and a penalty-worthy foul against forward C.J. Sapong late in the match. He touched on the latter on Tuesday, but most of his ire was directed at referee Ismael Elfath's handling of the clock in stoppage time, after the Revolution's Chad Barrett fouled defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum near midfield and was given a yellow card.
Olum, whose first MLS goal gave Sporting a 2-1 win over Philadelphia in their regular-season finale, suffered a displacement fracture of his shin on the play and will be out for Wednesday's match – and the rest of the playoffs, should Kansas City advance.
The foul occurred near the end of the first minute of stoppage time, with four minutes indicated near the end of regulation. The resulting restart didn't happen for another minute, though, and the match still ended a few seconds ahead of the four-minute mark.
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“It never even got to four minutes,” Vermes said. “And there was over a minute of time that the referee spent talking to their players and our players over a set piece. And it was over a minute in extra time that wasn't even played. So all of those things need to be managed over the course of the game. If they're not, we're going to have to take matters into our own hands. And we are primed to do that, because we're tired of being on the short end of all these things that occur when the game's not properly managed.”
The infraction should have resulted in a red card for Barrett and a suspension for Wednesday's match, Vermes said.
“The guy had no intention to go after the ball,” he said. “OK, OK, that's the way it's going to be, and the league doesn't want to back that stuff up, people want to play, we want to play, and we're ready to play.”
Olum won't be the only player unavailable for Wednesday's match. Midfielder Peterson Joseph is ill and won't be in the 18, the club said on Tuesday.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.
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