I always laugh when I hear about a chronic problem that can easily be fixed. Take Major League Soccer’s messy play that can sometimes border on unattractive.
There is an easy solution. Start penalizing deliberate fouls designed to limit playmakers.
Tactical or “professional” fouls receive a yellow card every time. Why not recognize that repeated attempts to foul a key player are even more harmful to the game and treat them accordingly?
Everyone knows it is going on. One look at Saturday’s tape will tell you that Diego Chara’s repeated attempts on Morales (particularly his ankle) constituted using excessive force by every reasonable definition.
It’s not a new problem either.
San Jose did it the week before, as have most visitors to Rio Tinto Stadium in the last few years. Hit Morales, early, often … and late.
It started in the 33rd minute on Saturday when Chara stepped on Morales’ foot after kneeing him in the backside. This didn’t register a call from the official, though a similar step on Morales’ planted foot did one minute later.
Eventually it led to a bit of a melee in the second half though Chara managed to get away without a red card for that play.
It doesn’t need to be NBA-style “Star Treatment” or anything similar. Instead, the referee should watch for repeated cheap shots aimed at an opponent. A quick pre-match review of game tape will reveal which players are likely to be attackers and which will be victims.
When cheap shots and repeated hits happen, issue a yellow card for persistent infringement. If it becomes obvious that a specific player is being targeted, warn the head coach and issue a new card for each successive foul.
That will stop the problem and make for more attractive soccer than fans sometimes get to see.