I promise not to call referee Juan Guzman a coward (again) in this piece. In the 82nd minute of last weekend's match between D.C. United and the New England Revolution, he pulled a red card for what he adjudged to be a "serious foul" in the last game he refereed, and doing so isn't cowardice of the kind he showed when he failed to show red for a textbook example of DOGSO earlier this year. But having watched and rewatched the play at issue, I don't see it. Eddie Johnson, the red carded player (and, ironically, the player who was denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity back in April), doesn't look like he does anything violent at all. The play in questions starts around 5:45 in the video below.
Okay, maybe he stomped on the turf a little bit too hard in order to catch his balance when there was suddenly a Kelyn Rowe where he was going to be putting his foot. He certainly doesn't kick out at Rowe - I think it's fair to say that if EJ wanted to stomp on Rowe, rather than deliberately landing on the space that wasn't Kelyn Rowe, he would have. If anything, the replay shows that Rowe tries to kick out at Johnson at the end of the play.
I honestly can't say whether Guzman saw something else that we couldn't from the two angles provided on TV or whether he is preternaturally disposed to always make whichever call most damages Eddie Johnson or something else. Without more evidence, though, and given the lack of control he had over this match between United and the Revolution and in United's match against the Columbus Crew last month, my hunch is that he's just bad at being an MLS referee.
In any event, D.C. United and/or the MLS Player's Union should probably be appealing this red card and trying to reinstate the GAM for Saturday's match against Sporting Kansas City. And Guzman probably shouldn't be officiating any MLS matches until he serves some time in the lower divisions (or ever).
But that's just my take. Let's hear yours: Vote in our poll and let us know in the comments whether you thought EJ deserved to see red for this play.