Ricardo Salazar Strikes Again

Word is, MLS will not be rescinding Thierry Henry's red card. While reasonable people can disagree over how egregious Henry's headslap of Adam Moffat was, the red card was not a product of "mistaken identity," which is the only reason the league has cancelled a suspension in the past. 

One some level, you have to applaud the league for not caving into temptation. The New York Red Bulls will be playing the Seattle Sounders on Thursday in front of a season-high crowd of more than 45,000 people and a national TV audience. Surely, there was someone in the New York headquarters that thought long and hard about letting Henry play.

The bigger issue here, though, is how Henry came to get that red card. Roll the tape:


Now, I look at that video and see Henry being a total jerk. I don't like that he's touching another player in that manner, but I also think it falls short of a red-cardable offense. The sideline referee, apparently, disagreed and referee Ricardo Salazar trusted his fellow crew member. I'm guessing he regretted that.

This incident is oddly reminiscent of something that happened almost a year ago in which Salazar found himself in the middle of a very similar situation in a Sounders-Chivas USA match. In that game, Salazar was the assistant referee and since he was standing just about 10 feet away from an incident involving Leo Gonzalez and Mariano Trujillo. Salazar made the recommendation to red card both players, although replays seemed to clearly show the tussle was really a one-sided affair.

Replays were so clear, in fact, that referee Alex Prus issued an apology on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, Salazar was considerably less repentant and never publicly acknowledged his obvious mistake.

In a league where referee decisions are so widely lampooned and criticized, you'd think there would be more encouragement to take the Alex Prus approach. Instead, Salazar seems to be more of the example the league wants to follow, warts and all.

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