The general manager of the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) has said that Houston Dynamo defender Andre Hainault should have been sent off by referee Ricardo Salazar in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final between D.C. United and Houston this past Sunday.
Peter Walton, a former English Premier League referee, who is in his first season as PRO's general manager, released the following statement Wednesday afternoon.
"From the angle I saw in the stadium I thought it was a foul.
"Had there been a foul called, and of course it wasn't, I would've expected a yellow card.
"Looking at it in real time, I thought the tracking defender [Houston's Luiz Camargo] could have influenced the outcome of that particular play. That was my opinion from seeing it in real time."
"In review of that play, my opinion has changed in as much as the defender, which I thought in real time would have influenced the play, clearly was behind the action and therefore the disciplinary sanction should have been a red card for denial of a goal scoring opportunity.
"I made the initial statement on my real time opinion without having the advantage of a replay. Having reviewed the replay, it is clear it ticks all the boxes for a denial of as goal scoring opportunity and a send-off should have been the outcome."
The incident, seen above, occurred in first-half stoppage time, with United in front, 1-0. The reprieved Hainault went on to score the first of three second-half goals for Houston to give the Dynamo a 3-1 lead ahead of Sunday's second leg at RFK Stadium.
PRO is the organization responsible for managing the referee program in MLS, as well as other leagues in the U.S. and Canada. According to its website, Baldomero Toledo has been assigned to referee the second leg, which begins at 4:00 p.m. and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.