On Saturday night after the Montreal Impact were defeated by D.C. United, Head Coach Frank Klopas expressed his anger with MLS officials. After the game Klopas stated, “When I look at the amount of fouls we commit and the the number of yellow cards we get, we made eight fouls and three yellow cards, D.C., they commit twenty fouls and they got one yellow card. If it were Donadel making those fouls, he would have been red carded for sure. They need to call the game both ways; there are two teams on the field.”
Klopas Reacts after Loss to D.C. United
So is there anything behind Klopas’s grievances or was it just a case of sour grapes from the Montreal Head Coach? (It should be noted that two of the yellow cards received by the Impact were given for dissent – and had nothing to do with fouls committed).
Marco Donadel Clumsy or Just Unlucky?
Marco Donadel now just 5 yellows away from tying MLS single season record according to @RickMoffat
— Joey Alfieri (@joeyalfieri) August 9, 2015
However, Klopas may have a point about Donadel. The unassuming Italian has the worst disciplinary record in MLS accumulating nine yellow cards and one red card along the way. The other two players at the top of the disciplinary table are Damien Perrinelle (New York Red Bulls) and Kendall Watson (Vancouver Whitecaps), who both have racked up nine yellow cards themselves. It should be pointed out however that Watson has played in seven more games than Donadel while Perrinelle has featured in two more games than Donadel. The former Napoli player is currently on an impressive run of picking up a yellow card in the last three MLS matches he has played in. In early June Donadel vowed to change his ways after receiving a red card in Chicago, although it appears not much has changed. For a player that is not overly physical Marco Donadel seems to have not made many friends among MLS officials in 2015.
Not Many Fouls…But a Lot of Cards:
Another interesting statistic to point out is that the Impact have committed the second fewest team fouls in the MLS with 262, only the Philadelphia Union have committed fewer at 253. In comparison at the top of the “fouls committed table” are the Vancouver Whitecaps who have committed 339 fouls in 2015. However when one looks at the team disciplinary table in terms of cards handed out the Impact are near the top in fourth place, only behind Vancouver, Real Salt Lake, and New York City FC. Montreal has accumulated 46 yellow cards and 4 red cards to this point in the season. So if the Impact commit so few fouls but are near the top in card accumulation, where are these cards coming from?
After looking through the disciplinary records from this season 16 of the cards have been picked up for either dissent, time wasting, or diving. That is roughly 35 percent of the Montreal cards have been accumulated for “non-foul committed behaviour”.
Who is to Blame?
So is there any link between these 16 unnecessary yellow cards and team discipline? Are the players on the field not communicating appropriately on the field with the officials? The lead communication role is often managed by the team captain, in virtually all team sports. However the thing is… that the captain of the Montreal Impact (Patrice Bernier) has only started 3 MLS games all season and played less than 350 minutes for the side. One theory is that not having a quality communicator on the field to deal with the official is hurting the Impact in respect to picking up unnecessary yellow cards. Piatti might be a very good soccer player however he might not have the communication skills to deal with MLS officials effectively.
So although Klopas may have an argument (even if it is a flimsy one) with regards to Marco Donadel, someone must assume a leadership role to limit these seemingly silly yellow cards. The coaching staff, players and team leaders must learn and grow together in order to root out the issues such as dissent directed towards MLS referees. Klopas is always the first one to take responsibility for how the team fares in the standings, but perhaps he should also to start to take responsibility for how the team behaves on the pitch as well.
Statistics Courtesy of MLS.com & whoscored.com