Sanchez penalty kick gives Rapids 1-1 tie

TOM CANAVAN (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) -- With replacement referees handling the games, there was bound to be some controversy in Major League Soccer this season.

It happened in Week 2.

Vicente Sanchez scored on a penalty kick in the 72rd minute after a questionable decision by the substitute referee and the Colorado Rapids and new coach Pablo Mastroeni opened their season with a 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

Substitute referee Alan Kelly awarded the penalty kick after defender Jamison Olave used his chest to knock a much smaller Marvin Chavez to the grass as he took a pass from Sanchez.

''If it's against you it's a tough call,'' Mastroeni said. ''If it's for you, you are OK with it. I think referees are out of our control.''

The substitute referees are working the games because the Professional Referee Organization, which manages on-field officials for Major League Soccer, has locked out officials from the Professional Soccer Referees Association. The two sides have failed to reach agreement on a contract after the officials formed a union last year.

Kelly told a pool reporter that Olave challenged Chavez from behind and initiated the contact, a decision that brought boos from the crowd of 20,542 at Red Bull Arena who earlier had thought that Thierry Henry's 57th-minute goal would be the winner.

''I don't mean to be blunt, but in terms of the questions that's the straight forward answers I can give,'' Kelly said.

Red Bulls coach Mike Petke didn't like the decision but he wasn't going to draw a fine from the league by criticizing it.

''Listen, it's the game,'' Petke said. ''I mean what am I going to say about the penalty kick? Perhaps if the guy was Olave's size he would not have gone down like that. I don't know? Olave looked to step up and stand his ground and keep him in front of him and got him. The referee made a decision. It's unfortunate for us, fortunate for Colorado. You get away from it, move on from it.''

The 6-foot-3 and 210-pound Olave, who seemed shocked by the call, left the locker room and was not available for comment.

Sanchez deposited the kick from the spot into the right corner of the net. Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles did not have a chance to stop it.

''I spoke to the ref afterward and he said, 'He was too physical coming from behind him,''' Robles said. ''I have to respect that.''

The Red Bulls, the defending Supporters' Shield trophy winners, were trying to bounce back from a dismal season-opening performance in 4-1 loss at Vancouver last weekend.

Henry, who did not play in the season opener because it was on an artificial surface, headed a brilliant crossing pass by Lloyd Sam under rookie goalkeeper John Berner. It was his 42nd goal for the Red Bulls, second on the career list behind Juan Pablo Angel (58).

''There is no panic,'' Henry said about the slow start. ''We have to go back to the film this week and do better because it obviously was not enough to win the game today.''

He had no comment on the referee's decision.

New York had two chances to win in the five minutes of injury time. Eric Alexander was wide with a shot in the box and Berner, who played last season at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, made a diving save on another header by Henry.

''To say I wasn't on the edge of my seat of out, if not out of it, would be an understatement,'' said Mastroeni, who played 11-plus seasons with the Rapids and returned after last season with several club records, including most games played. ''That's the beauty of the game. It can all come down to the last minute, the last second, that's why it's exciting.''

Robles had kept the Red Bulls in the game in the first half, making five saves, including a finger-tip stop on a 35-yard shot by Nick LaBrocca that caught the goalkeeper a little too far off his line.

Mastroeni was named the Rapids' head coach last week, replacing Oscar Pareja, who left in January to take the same job with his former club, FC Dallas. Mastroeni was in charge of the squad through the preseason.

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