Revolution coach Jay Heaps could not believe what was unfolding in the final seconds of Saturday’s clash against the Red Bulls.
In the seventh minute of second half stoppage time, David Carney was getting ready to launch a free kick deep in the Revolution end before referee Fotis Bazakos motioned toward Andrew Farrell. The Revolution right back, who was sporting a nasty facial contusion after a collision with Matt Reis moments earlier, would have to go back to the technical area to get his wounds attended to.
Never mind that an 86th minute red card to Andy Dorman had already put the Revolution, who were clinging to a 2-1 lead, in a vulnerable position. Or that the final play of the game would be a dangerous Red Bulls set piece. Bazakos was firm in his decision, and seconds later, Heaps could only watch as Tim Cahill scored the equalizer to rip two valuable points away from the Revolution in a wild 2-2 draw.
“I’ve never seen a player being asked to leave the field on the last play of the game,” Heaps told the media after the match. “You give a red card, I can live with it; you don’t call a penalty on the second one -- I can live with the calls of the game. I can’t live with [Bazakos] taking our guys off the field on the last play of the game.”
To be fair, Bazakos’ decisions in the latter stages of Saturday’s match left both coaches bewildered. A phantom penalty call in the 85th minute allowed the Revolution to make it a 1-1 game. A minute later, Dorman was issued a straight red for a studs-up challenge on Eric Alexander. In stoppage time, goalkeeper Luis Robles cleaned out Dimitry Imbongo on a breakaway, yet no foul was called. But the one that really got Heaps’ goat was, not surprisingly, the one that allowed the Red Bulls to charge back.
According to Farrell, Bazakos instructed him to return to the technical area to attend to his bloodied face, even though the right back had already been cleared to return after the Revolution training staff patched him back up moments earlier.
“He said I had to clean my face,” Farrell told the media after the match. “I don’t know, I think it was more of a scrape, so there’s obviously going to be blood there. But I couldn’t see my own face, so I don’t know what it would look like.”
What was clear what that Farrell’s absence opened the door for Cahill’s last-gasp goal. Not only were the Revolution down to nine men as a result, but only had seven field players inside the area when Carney launched his free kick in the dying moments.
“We had a red card and they send their goalie (Robles) up,” Farrell said. “So they’re up two men and then they have to take me off. Three-man advantage on a corner is pretty tough odds to put a team on at the end of a game.”
And with the Revolution needing maximum points to keep their postseason hopes from flickering away, Heaps was all that more incredulous at Bazakos’ decision, which he believes was not only unwarranted, but unprecedented.
“Go back and look; show me tape on when in the world, when you’ve already got a red card, (the referee) takes another guy off,” Heaps said. “It’s impossible.”