I’ll just go ahead and say it, Jair Marrufo failed to do his job. He utterly failed and allowed his ego and pride to ruin the outcome of a professional soccer match when there is literally a system in place to keep that exact set of circumstances from occurring. I’ll be the first one to defend refs and the job in which they’re tasked in a fast-paced game where it isn’t always simple to see what’s happening. But when you fail to call a foul/penalty after being told to review it using a camera system that shows said clear and obvious penalty, you’re being irresponsible and the entire decision is inexcusable. And if you think Marrufo’s pride/ego didn’t play into it, just read his response to Joe Patrick’s question about it after the match.
I asked referee Jair Marrufo about the non-penalty decision on Brooks Lennon late in today's game against Miami.— Joe Patrick (@japatrick200) April 24, 2022
Marrufo's response: "Brooks Lennon is anticipating the contact and is already leaning forward. There was not enough contact for a penalty in my opinion."
“In my opinion” doesn’t cut it when the evidence in front of you is cut and dry. Your opinion as a ref doesn’t matter when the rules of the game were clearly violated; you don’t get to make up rules as you go, you simply failed to do your job.
I can’t believe Maruffo actually looked at this again and STILL saw nothing wrong with it pic.twitter.com/sQNELqp0UZ— Will (@Wixzuh) April 24, 2022
What’s even more frustrating is that this even has to be a talking point. If a player makes an egregious mistake, he gets fined. What’ll happen to Marrufo, a stern talking-to? We should be talking about how Atlanta United played admittedly their best match of the season in terms of attacking soccer, minus the finishing, and that Miami escaped with three points from a well-worked counter and a moment of individual mistakes by George Campbell. Or about Ronaldo Cisneros getting his first goal. Did Atlanta deserve the win? Yes. Should they have placed the result more firmly in their hands by finishing these chances? Absolutely. But unfortunately referee bias is part of the game, and sometimes that bias can singlehandedly change the outcome of the match because we haven’t even mentioned the other CLEAR AND OBVIOUS penalty in the first half against Marcelino Moreno.
Regardless, Gonzalo Pineda and Ronaldo Cisneros took to the podium to discuss the match after the fact, and Pineda said it best when he mentioned “...but obviously it’s a sour taste in my mouth because we should have won this one.” There are positives, for sure, but Atlanta United has to figure out a way to start turning these chances into wins, because what’s happening now just isn’t sustainable. The entire team feels like it’s one key moment or slight change away from breaking through and opening up their entire attacking prowess but at this point they’re just getting frustrated. Read below to see everything they had to say, and at the bottom is a link to listen to our post-match Twitter Spaces. Don’t worry, you can beat this dead horse until there’s nothing left.
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda
On what more he can do to produce goals for the squad
“We can continue playing offensively and trying to create chances. This is a better problem to have. Not being clinical when you create too many chances, rather than not even creating at all. Then you’re begging for a set piece or a counterattack or something like that in order to create goals. We have to do better. We have to try to be more clinical. In time, I think this thing will change. With the amount of chances we’re creating, I think we’re going to score way more goals.
On if getting Luiz Araujo 90-minutes fit would help the offense
“For sure, that’s a big part of it. We are missing two big pieces of our attack, Josef Martinez and Luiz Araujo, in terms of goal production and all that. I’m cognizant of that. I think we still can score many more goals, even without those two important players. I think the way we’re creating the chances is important to me. We just need to do better. Again, this is why the forwards earn a lot of money, because they know how to put the ball in the back of the net. That’s the game.”
On what he liked from the center backs and midfield
“I think we were good, not just in breaking the first line of the pressure, but unbalancing the midfield. I think that is something that we are doing good, so there are some positives out of the result. Not everything is doom and gloom, but obviously it’s a sour taste in my mouth because we should have won this one. I think we should have won this one. Even against Cincinnati, I felt the same. I feel like we’re doing so many good things, like breaking the first line of pressure, the center backs being aggressive, passing between the lines and creating chances. Looking for different ways to attack in the final third. We created so many different types of chances like from shots, from crosses, from what I call the primacy zones, inverted crosses, through balls. There were so many different ways to open up the opposing box today. Again, disappointed with the result.”
On George Campbell
“He’s a center back with enormous potential. We’re very high on George [Campbell]. He’s still a very young player, and at times, center backs just take a bit longer to find consistency. That’s all he’s missing and that will come in time, I would say. He has to believe in himself. I believe in him. The team believes in him, because he’s a hard worker. He’s a very talented center back, but he just needs to believe the same way about himself and just continue in the path of growing. I’m still very high on George, and I’m here to help him in any way, to just be more stable in terms of performance week after week.”
On the potential penalty calls for Atlanta United
“Nima [Saghafi, the fourth official] was great with me. He was very clear on how the process with VAR is nowadays. That it’s a little bit of remote. On those, I have to trust VAR. I think I wasn’t believing in VAR before it was part of the game, but now that it’s here, we have to trust in that process. In the end, one penalty was checked from remote, they said no. The other one was more up to Jair Marrufo to make the final call. I haven’t seen the play, so from my perspective, it should have been a PK, but I haven’t seen the replay. I trust whatever the referees are deciding against us, it’s okay. I will never complain about it. It was Jair’s [Marrufo] call and that’s okay.”
Atlanta United forward Ronaldo Cisneros:
On scoring his first goal and how it happened:
“It was a corner kick and one of my teammates flicked it on and I tried to search for the loose ball to finish it right away. I wasn’t able to do that, but luckily the ball fell to me again and thanks to God I was able to finish it.”
On the team struggling with finishing chances:
“I think the team has been playing really well. We have been creating chances and as you said the ball just hasn’t been going in. I think what we need to do is continue working and continuing to create those goal scoring plays and try to be superior to the opponent. We just have to continue to work on those.”
On challenge of not getting frustrated when ball isn’t going in:
“Obviously there is a little bit of frustration when we aren’t finishing the chances we are creating. But I think there would be more frustration if we weren’t creating anything, if we weren’t being better than the opponents. I think seeing how we are creating opportunities, playing better than opponents, that’s all we can focus on now.”
On how close his header in stoppage time was to going in:
“It was very close. I tried to play it to the second post just in case if it didn’t go in one of my teammates could be there, but it didn’t go in.”
On how he thought the match played out today:
“I think we did have majority of chances and possession today. Maybe the first half was more even, with both teams having some opportunities to score. But in the second half, we had the better chances to score, but they scored on two plays. The path for this team is to continue the things we are doing. Have majority of possession, try and create more chances and if we do that, sooner or later the goals will come.”