Undoubtedly the biggest topic of discussion following Atlanta United’s hard-fought 2-2 draw with Toronto FC was the incident that occurred in the 75th minute between Yamil Asad and TFC defender Eriq Zavaleta that saw the Five Stripes’ attacker sent off with a straight red card.
Referee David Gantar reached for his back pocket to send Asad to the showers early after much deliberation and possibly some help from the BMO Field video board. The Argentinian was adjudged to have used violent conduct when his elbow made contact with Zavaleta’s head when trying to run past him and close down a player with the ball. Here’s a look at the incident:
Here's the incident. You be the judge. pic.twitter.com/bGO2kKi0rd— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) April 9, 2017
Atlanta United manager Tata Martino took the high road when asked about the red card after the match, saying he didn’t have a good look at it and the referee must’ve knew what he was doing.
“I didn’t see it as it happened or catch the replay so I can’t really comment on it but if the referee made that decision then he must have been sure,” said Martino to reporters after the match.
The recipient of the incident wasn’t as noncommittal with his answer. Zavaleta said that the discipline was deserved.
“Obviously I didn’t see him coming, I was dribbling with the ball and I felt something really hard hit the back of my head. For me, I watched the replay, he comes high with the elbow and catches me on the back of the head. In my opinion, it’s not even close, it’s a red card,” said Zavaleta.
While replays are very helpful the game of soccer for fans and media to discuss incidents like this, it’s still not legal for referees to use in-stadium replays to make decisions like these. Clear moans and groans from the crowd could be heard via the television broadcast while the referee was deliberating the call. You can expect MLS and the MLS Disciplinary Committee to have a say on this incident in some fashion next week.
*Note: All quotes used in this post were provided by Atlanta United