As refs dominate MLS chatter, Whitecaps won't alter style ahead of D.C. clash

By The Canadian Press
April 11, 2016 - 11:32am

Jordan Harvey won't be changing his style. The same goes for Tim Parker.

As controversial refereeing decisions dominated the conversation in Major League Soccer this week, the defenders for the Vancouver Whitecaps — one a veteran of 11-plus professional seasons, the other a second-year player — said the last thing they plan to do is let up on the pitch.

"I've gotten red cards in the past," said the 32-year-old Harvey. "I'm just going to continue to play and let the chips fall where they may."

MLS referees have issued 16 reds through 42 games, not a drastic increase compared to last season's 14 dismissals over the same span, but it's the inconsistent calls and reversal of decisions after the fact by the league's disciplinary committee that has irked many players.

"You can let it change your game," said Parker, 23. "Obviously what the referee decides is what it's going to be, but I think in the back of your mind you kind of know that in every tackle there could be a rash decision made.

"The league wants to get a little bit more control over the games. In their eyes that's going to better this league. But for some of us, we don't feel the same way."

The Whitecaps (2-2-1) will be without Matias Laba when they visit D.C. United (0-2-3) on Saturday after the influential defensive midfielder was sent off for a challenge against Los Angeles Galaxy counterpart Mike Magee in the first half of last weekend's 0-0 home draw.

It was a call that left Vancouver fuming and even had some members of other teams across the league openly questioning the level and consistency of officiating.

"It's unfortunate for MLS right now that that's the narrative," said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. "We can continue complaining about the refs, but I think it's a little bit unfair to them as well.

"It has to come from MLS to give them a better understanding of what's a red and what's not. ... we're in this together — the players and the MLS and the refs to make this league hopefully one of the best of the world, but it has to come from all sides."

Vancouver will also be without captain Pedro Morales on Saturday after he limped off with an injury to his left hip/groin area against Los Angeles that will keep him out at least a few weeks.

Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said his captain was always going to stay back in Vancouver for the visit to D.C. in an effort keep Morales healthy after an injury-riddled 2015, but the point was moot when he went down versus the Galaxy.

"The travel is very hard," said Robinson. "This was a trip he was never going to go on."

Vancouver will dress a sixth different starting lineup in as many games to begin the season at RFK Stadium versus a United side that has yet to taste victory in 2016 through seven games — two in CONCACAF Champions League and five in MLS.

"D.C. hasn't got off to the best start, but they're a dangerous team, especially at home," said Ousted, who has gone nearly 220 minutes without allowing a goal. "With the missing personnel it poses an issue for us.

"It's going to take people stepping in and stepping up."


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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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