Last night's Kansas City-New England match was a unique affair that not only pitted two conference rivals, but a pair of clubs that had met only two weeks ago. And anyone with a modicum of memory can easily recall what transpired two weeks ago in Barbeque City had to know that there was blood in the water prior to the match.
For those without elephant-like memories, here's a brief synopsis:
During the 12th minute, Hercules Gomez went in on a late hard tackle Steve Ralston near midfield. The Revolution skipper suffered a broken right fibula, and is likely finished through the remainder of the 2008 season. Curiously, referee Alex Prus did not warn or card Gomez for his actions.
So going into last night's game, there was considerable buzz that the Revolution themselves were ready and willing to administer justice themselves to the Wizards' striker.
Behold Khano Smith in the 42nd minute. With his team already down a man due to the questionable red card issued to Gabriel Badilla in the 26th minute, the Bermudan international chased down Gomez deep into the Revolution right corner and violently undercut him with a hard slide tackle. The momentum of Smith's slide forced both players into the sideline signage, and, to no one's surprise, Smith was shown the red.
Astonishingly, Gomez was not injured on the play, but there was little doubt surrounding his assailant's motives.
After the match, Shalrie Joseph was quite candid in his remarks about the incident. He said that it was most definitely payback for the reckless tackle on Ralston. Despite the fact that the Revolution were already playing a man down, a message needed to be sent that you simply don’t get away with injuring the skipper without consequence.
Was it smart? Absolutely not. Smith’s red card forced his club to play two men down, and also eliminated him from appearing in Thursday’s playoff match against Chicago. Due to the nature of the tackle and the circumstances surrounding it, it’s likely that Smith will be suspended beyond Thursday.
Was it justified? Yes. Smith’s slide tackle no doubt furthered his clubhouse cred among his teammates and coaches. Steve Nicol knew it was reckless. He may not have agreed that the timing of it was particularly keen, but I’m sure the Scot was not too angry with it.
But that’s football. You have to watch out for your own.
For all the certainty of Smith’s red card, there was considerable time devoted to discussing Kevin Stott’s red card to Gabriel Badilla in the 26th minute.
After an unmarked Claudio Lopez caught up to a long ball and easily entered the area, a lagging Badilla raced to tackle Lopez. Upon reaching him, Badilla’s right arm made contact with Lopez, and the K.C. striker pirouetted to the pitch in attempt to elicit a penalty .He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
Not only was the penalty awarded, but Badilla was sent off for what should have been a yellow. Yet, Stott felt that the situation warranted the red, and the Costa Rican was shown the door.
According to the official’s match report, Badilla “denied a goal opportunity by foul.”
In the interest of fairness, I tried to get Stott’s take on what he saw, and made request to speak with him. However, the request was not returned, and thus, we may never know what exactly compelled Stott to administer the red to Badilla.