In the Saturday, September 25, 2021’s post-match press conference, following the 3-1 loss at Gotham FC, head coach Paul Riley and defender Kaleigh Kurtz recognized that while the final result would not have likely changed, the pace of play and consistency would have made for a different and less choppy of a game had the referees been more consistent in their foul calling.
31 Fouls, 7 Yellow Cards
By the time the triple whistle was blown on September 25th’s match between Gotham FC and the North Carolina Courage, a total of 31 fouls were collectively called between the two teams, with a total of 7 yellow cards. The Courage notched 19 of those fouls, with a pair of yellow cards, while Gotham FC had 12 fouls and 5 yellow cards.
Defender Kaleigh Kurtz said the foul count was a bit deceiving.
The post-match press conference had a spotty internet connection. Just as Kurtz began talking about the officiating, the connection momentarily cut out, returning just in time for her to say, “Gosh, what if I get fined for saying that.”
“[The head referee] was very whistle happy. 30 calls is a lot of calls so there’s just a lot of breakup in the play,” Kurtz said.
Riley agreed with Kurtz’s assessment of 30+ cumulative fouls.
“No, it was not that physical,” Riley said.
“I mean, the consistency of cards and stuff — Estelle Johnson pulls… back in the first half — it’s a straight yellow. It’s an obvious yellow card — professional foul — no yellow card. Carli Lloyd kicks the ball away — should have been sent off. Paige Monaghan kicks the ball away and gets a yellow card. I don’t understand the difference.”
Riley said as the game was winding down, and Gotham went into time-wasting mode, the inconsistencies continued. Monaghan already had a yellow card in the 77′.
“… fourth officials whispering, ‘oh she’s already got a yellow.’ He’s about to give her a card to send her off and doesn’t give it,” Riley said.
Riley noted the head referee was quick to blow his whistle.
“Every time somebody screamed, they got a foul,” he said.
“I don’t know what it was like to watch, but it wasn’t great on the sideline.”
Riley said he doesn’t mind the physical gameplay.
He must’ve gotten the whistle for Christmas because he blew it a lot tonight on things that I just wouldn’t have blown.
“I’m fine with that if it’s even. [The head official] was very very average tonight. It’s just disappointing because it did affect the game… He must’ve gotten the whistle for Christmas because he blew it a lot tonight on things that I just wouldn’t have blown. I would have let them go.”
Riley said the players took advantage of the sheer number of whistles throughout the match.
“Certainly players made a meal of it — there’s no question on some of the fouls. But [the referee] needs to know the difference between someone making a meal of it and an actual foul and an actual yellow card.”
Riley said he doesn’t want to see anyone get sent off for cards.
“I don’t think Carli should be sent off, but the problem is the foul in the first half was a bad foul… you know that’s going to be a yellow card. In the Premiership, that would have been a sending-off offense. And [Monaghan] would have been sent off in the Premiership. Paige Monaghan got a yellow, so why wouldn’t Carli?”
Protecting National Team Players
The NWSL is no different than any other professional sports league — with bias and favoritism showed towards its superstars. In the NWSL referee bias has been shown for the US Women’s National Team players, most notably Gotham’s Carli Lloyd in Saturday’s matchup against the Courage.
Riley was quick to compliment Llloyd for her performance.
“In all fairness, Carli was brilliant tonight. She was the best player on the field for me.”
Riley argues that the national team players get too much leeway.
“They protect them so much,” Riley said.
“You go near them and they go down, it’s a foul. I think all the national team players that I know, it’s the same protection for all of them and it has been for years. Until that’s stamped out, and they stop being super-fans and referees and start reffing the game, it will be better.”
Next Match for the Courage
The North Carolina Courage return home for their next match, facing the Washington Spirit Friday, October 1, 2021 at 7pm at Sahlen’s Stadium. The match will be the first where a limited number of dogs will also be allowed to attend in Sideline East section 301 and the Endline South section 208.