Open letter to Don Garber, Mark Abbott and Todd Durbin

Open letter to Don Garber (Commissioner of MLS), Mark Abbott (President of MLS) and Todd Durbin (Sr. VP of Player Personnel)

Congratulations on the opening of Major League Soccer's twentieth season. While our club is only in its sixth season, we are thrilled to be a part of the league's history.

You've spoken publicly about your vision for MLS, and how you see the league taking its rightful place as one of the world's best. We are well on our way to that goal. MLS is robust with homegrown players, international superstars, and top-level coaches.

Here in Philadelphia we are truly blessed to have our boys in blue. Jim Curtin has invigorated both the fans and players with our run in last year's U.S. Open Cup tournament.

One thing holding MLS back from taking its place with the top leagues is the quality of officiating.

Major League Soccer is not a flimsy, fly-by-night operation. It is a professionally run organization with multi-million dollar player and sponsor contracts. The quality of play on the pitch has increased exponentially in the last decade. Why has the quality of officiating not kept pace?

We’d like to highlight the week one matchup against Colorado, and the week two matchup at Real Salt Lake. In week one, two potential penalty kick calls were missed, first in the 32nd minute as Rapids player Michael Harrington challenged Union player Fernando Aristeguieta, and in the 49th minute as Dillon Serna handled the ball in the penalty area. Additionally, Rapids player James Riley was allowed to stay in the game despite a dangerous play on the Union’s Andrew Wenger. Following this game, without any transparency, referee Silviu Petrescu was not assigned a game during week two. This move was done without any confirmation of an actual term of suspension. 

In week two, Philadelphia's Maurice Edu was given a call vs RSL's Luke Mulholland, who in a post-game interview admitted the call was unwarranted. This call resulted in a penalty kick for RSL, ultimately tying the game.  After closely studying the video, there is little contact between these two players. The ensuing kick was good for a goal and turned three points on the road into a lousy point for each side. Here's what Mulholland told reporters after the game:

“Was it a penalty?” mused Mulholland. “In my book, no. The defender caught me with a straight leg on my shin, knocked me off balance and I just tried to regain the ball again. Thought we won a corner or a throw-in or whatever, but the referee gave us a penalty. So, I’ll take that.”

Commissioner, it is plain to see that in order for MLS to take its rightful place with the other professional leagues, the officiating must be world-class as well. Anything less than that is embarrassing and reinforces the stereotypes that people like Jurgen Klinsmann continue to perpetuate.

What are our expectations? We expect MLS to acknowledge, for the second straight week, that the officiating has cost our club, the Philadelphia Union, two points.  Our owners, coaches, players and fans deserve an apology. At this juncture, anything less than that is unacceptable. We look forward to your immediate response.