I get a lot of reader email asking me to write about the state of refereeing in Major League Soccer. A lot of folks who have grown up with the game say it stinks, and I can't say whether it does or it doesn't because as a soccer non purist I have little basis for comparison.
But that's no barrier to doing a story. My job isn't to know things. It's to find things out.
The problem with writing about MLS refs is that most coaches and players are reluctant to criticize them because they know the league will crack down on them.
Carver knows the league will come calling early this week, but said yesterday he'll call them first to discuss his disgust.
So between Carver's post-game vent and Sigi Schmid calmly pointing out that the refs also missed a crucial back-pass call against Toronto (funny how opposing coaches can each leave a game convinced that the refs were against them), and the critical comments that got Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis fined and suspended, I'm starting to pick up a pattern.
It's not my place to say MLS refs stink. After all, I'm but a humble reporter, an objective observer of The Beautiful Game.
But for the readers who find MLS officiating substandard, slanted and inconsistent, it looks like at least three of the league's coaches back you up.
Still, you can't expect the league not to discipline Carver over this.
Any guesses on what they give him? A warning, maybe, because he's new? A pat on the back because he gave us all something to talk about after a boring game? Or a fine and a suspension?
I'm thinking option number three. A grand and a game, just like Kreis.
CARVER MAKES LIKE RAFER
He left yesterday's game wondering if he was the target of a conspiracy to annoy him out of the league and all the way back to the U.K.
Raptors fans reading this blog will remember Rafer Alston's post-game rant three seasons ago, the one that came after Sam Mitchell benched him in the fourth quarter of a close loss in Boston.
Situation had Alston mad enough to think about quitting his job.
"I'm going to talk to Sam, I'm going to talk to [general manager] Rob [Babcock]," he said. "I think it's time. I'm tired of getting into it with my teammates, I'm tired of getting into it with coaches. I don't know if I'm a good fit for this team; I don't know if I'm a good fit in this league anymore. So I'm going to take some time, and I may not even play anymore the rest of the season."
Saturday night the combination of MLS sending out DVDs of his bad behaviour, alleged harrassment from on-field officials, and a series of dives from the Crew's Guillermo Barros Schelotto had Carver ready pull an Alston.
I don't know what kind of stats you guys were keeping, but by a highly unoffial press box count, Schelotto flopped six times, prompting Carver to issue his first Alstonesque threat.
"I'm not here to be part of that. I want people to be honest and professional, and for me that's not honest and professional," he said. "If that's the way he wants to play the game, get me back to England. I feel that strong about it. I really do."
His rant about the league and its officials came minutes later, and in the midst of it he wondered if the personality police were trying to suck the passion from the game.
Cue Alstonism number two.
"They want me to sit down in the dugout with me arms folded and me legs crossed and just be a nice little boy," he said. "Well, no ... I'm a passionate guy ... and if that is taken away from me, then it's not worth me being here and being a part of this. But I'm not going to let them win, that's for sure."
As far as I know, Carver's still in town. Happily, none of my bosses phoned me today to tell me to stake out the British Airways departure desk at Pearson, just in case Carver was set to hop a flight back to Newcastle.
I expect him to return to work Monday, just like Alston did after he threatened to walk out.
But how long he has to sit out after that is up to the league.
-- Morgan Campbell