Officiating takes center stage in RailHawks matchup with Cosmos

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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Right after the first significant slide tackle occurred during a 3-0 win that the Carolina RailHawks claimed over the New York Cosmos at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday, the match referee claimed center stage and attention and managed to keep it until he blew the final whistle.

NASL referee Mark Kadlecik gave RailHawks coach Colin Clarke a stern and direct warning that he was in control of the game after Clarke stood up to question the play.

From there, Kadlecik proceeded to stop play and administered 43 total foul calls throughout the game which included showing a total of 11 cards and four red cards that resulted in as many subsequent ejections between the two teams.

Though the players’ and coaches’ conduct on both sides was not angelic in nature, they were forced had to adjust and took advantage of the circumstances when they could.

New York head coach Giovanni Savarese stated that he would not comment on the game’s officiating, but Clarke was more than willing to offer his statement on how Kadlecik’s officiating impacted the game’s flow and resultant play.

“I told them before the game, and this isn’t any disrespect to him, but I knew he was going to call it their way a little bit,” Clarke said in how he directed his team on what kind of officiating to expect.

The RailHawks narrowly edged the Cosmos in fouls committed 23-20.

Both teams were guilty of and called for aggressive play during their first-ever matchup against one another with the famed Cosmos brand showcasing itself in North Carolina after a 28-year absence from the NASL.

However, Clark felt that the referee set the tone in too confining a manner that resulted in as many cards shown and ejections as there were.

“He gets caught up in the Cosmos’ bright lights, etc., etc., they’ve got a very smart player,(Marco) Senna, in the middle of the park, he’s experienced, he knows the game, and every time he went to ground, he got a free kick. That was disappointment that the ref fell for that early on.”

The growing momentum in foul calling continued until the 22nd minute when Kadlecik showed his first yellow card of the game and continued doing so 10 more times, and even ejected a Cosmos assistant coach late in the game, just before letting loose with the final whistle blast to end it all.

“He gets caught up on every foul and it was only gonna’ go one place and that was gonna’ be a red card. It was disappointment that he had to have such a factor in the game.”

After the Cosmos went down a player due to a second yellow and red card with ejection to Joseph Nane in the 44th minute, the RailHawks newly named captain, Austin Da Luz, overplayed on a challenge for the ball and earned his own second yellow and subsequent red card a minute later.

Da Luz’s ejection evened the playing field resulting in each team starting the next half with 10 players aside.

“Not good,” Clarke said of Da Luz’s conduct and mindset.

“There’s no excuse. Now you’ve gotta’ be smart – we’re up a man with two minutes to go to halftime. Get on the other side of the field. Just get out of the way. Don’t put yourself in that position. Do not give the referee any opportunity to pull out his red card. So, it’s disappointing and he needs to learn from that.”

As Clarke will take time to further direct his players on future matches that could fall into similar circumstances, it was clear that he felt that Kadlecik called too many fouls and took attention away from the players.

His team earned a good win against a good team in his opinion, but it was marred with more controversy and discussion on the field than it needed to have.

“It wasn’t that type of game,” Clarke concluded.

“He needed to do a better job of reffing.”