MLS replacement referees will officiate league games in Week 2 as the struggle between the Professional Referee Organization and Professional Soccer Referees Association to find common ground continues.
The latest round of negotiations has been canceled, according to a PSRA press release, and regular league officials have been pulled from their assignments as a result. That means another week of uncertainty and another week of replacements with some major games on the horizon -- none bigger than Saturday's season debut for Toronto FC at Seattle.
“PSRA is disappointed to report that PRO has unilaterally canceled yet another scheduled negotiation session for today, Tuesday, March 11, 2014," PSRA negotiations leader and vice president Steve Taylor said in a statement. "Additionally, PRO has removed all match assignments from PSRA officials for week 2 of the MLS regular season, effectively continuing the lockout of the referees. It is unknown at this time when PRO will agree to resume talks as required by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).”
Both parties have filed charges against the other with the NLRB, as the ugliness between the two sides continues to boil over.
All things told, replacement refs held their own in Week 1. They avoided a major controversy when Real Salt Lake prevailed in LA despite an apparent good goal by RSL sub Luke Mulholland being disallowed for offside. Minutes later, Joao Plata rightfully put RSL ahead 1-0, and Nick Rimando saved Robbie Keane's last-minute penalty after a controversial call by referee Javier Santos gave the Galaxy a lifeline.
Alan Kelly (not your typical replacement ref -- he has recent Champions League experience), officiating the first game of the season, also neglected to show second yellow cards to both Sporting KC's Aurelien Collin and Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso when it could have been argued that both deserved to be sent off. Aside from those select moments, the first week unfolded pretty much sans controversy, and definitely with no more than a typical MLS slate.
Until there is a resolution between PRO and PSRA, the replacement referees will continue to man the action, either potentially putting MLS games into disrepute or adding fuel to the fire that the PSRA-backed, first-choice officials aren't that far ahead of the curve after all. But even if the replacements continue to carry forward without any drama, the much publicized lack of love between the two sides is no joke. A document that the referee's union boasts on its website blasts the replacement crew, providing brief bios that are preceded with a scathing quote defining a "scab" during a lockout. Per PSRA's official website:
The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer. Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country. A scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class.
Jack London (1876-1916)
Definition of SCAB: Someone who works during a lockout. ANY OFFICIAL WHO WORKS DURING THE LOCKOUT IS A SCAB