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Replacement Referees v Real Referees and the Texas Derby

Ever since returning to action last Saturday, fans from almost every team have had reasons to complain about the quality of officiating. With the physicality of the Texas Derby expected to be high, do we really think the real referees won't have an impact on the outcome?

Notice the impressive combo of jersey grab AND forearm/should to the back/head. That takes serious skill.
Notice the impressive combo of jersey grab AND forearm/should to the back/head. That takes serious skill.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I know it seems a bit absurd to say replacement referees could actually be anything more than marginally better than the original referees. We've seen countless leagues battle strikes from their referee or officials unions, and yet most times fans are clamoring for the original referees back.

This particular case may very well be the first time I have seen multiple fan bases from multiple teams decrying the return of the original referees. If anything, the replacement referees were actually quite good. Sure, they had their share of mistakes or missed judgement calls, but throughout the course of the two week span the replacement referees officiated MLS matches they were very consistent with their calls.

I went back through the match statistics for each match across the first four weeks. What is most enlightening is through the first two weeks of 15 matches, the replacement referees awarded 7 Penalty Kicks, 65 Yellow Cards and 0 Red Cards. By comparison, through the third and fourth weeks of 18 matches, the "real" referees awarded 9 Penalty Kicks, 62 Yellow Cards and 5 Red Cards. Note: Red Cards are STRAIGHT Red Cards, and Double Yellows counted as 2 Yellow Cards not a Yellow and a Red.

I'm mostly intrigued by the sheer number of red cards versus none. Across the two weeks of "real" referees, 4 matches saw 6 or more yellow cards. Across the two weeks of replacement referees, 1.

These types of statistics really don't tell us a whole lot other than the replacement referees were more likely to be judicious in their determination of an egregious foul warranting further discipline beyond a yellow card, but that is actually something to consider. The first two weeks the matches seemed to ebb and flow, with the referees allowing the match to play fluidly. Whereas the two weeks following have been stop and start affairs where play was frequently halted.

Suffice it to say, this leads into what the real meat of this article is about, the Texas Derby.

Yes, it is Texas Derby week and the much maligned FC Dallas (currently undefeated) head into the highly unfriendly confines of BBVA Compass Stadium to take on the Houston Dynamo. The rivalry still has plenty of luster for those who simply hate Southern Oklahoma (aka the city of Dallas). The match(es) are never short on physicality and controversy. Considering the last two weeks of MLS officiating, this season's fight for El Capitan should be no different.

Especially when you factor in the physicality David Horst displayed against Vancouver. If you were able to see the match Saturday, you know how physical Horst can be. The hit he laid on the Vancouver Whitecaps player as he ran right at him was a taste of just how strong Horst really is. I felt that impact all the way at Hay Merchant, and Horst's giving the Vancouver player the what-for following was priceless. I can't wait to see him unleashed on Blas Perez.

Thankfully, FC Dallas is without perennial pain in the backside Carlos Ruiz, who gave us such hits as "your foot, my face", "stamp, stomp, stamp stamp stomp your leg" and many, many more. Also, due to a red card, ex-Dynamo JeVaughn Watson will not play. This iteration of FCD is actually pretty quality though, but let's face it, this is BBVA Compass Stadium. And this is the Texas Derby.

My prediction? El Capitan heads home where it belongs, to BBVA Compass Stadium and the Houston Dynamo, aka the only true MLS team in Texas. But not without the referee making at least some impact on the result.