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Did Johnny Russell deserve red for this tackle?

Johnny Russell was sent off with a straight red card in SKC’s win over Houston, his first red card in MLS. But did he deserve it?



Credit: Thad Bell

In the 39th minute of Sporting KC’s 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, Johnny Russell was shown his first red card in the six years he’s been in MLS. The passionate, fiery Scotsman has earned the name “JFR” for good reason, but he’s never malicious and generally stayed out of trouble.

“Malicious” is exactly the word referee Chris Penso used in telling Russell he was endangering players. Here’s the play:

This is a tackle in which Russell was absolutely confident he was going to get the ball. It’s a hard tackle because of that confidence. He knew he would get the ball, and he did. But it is not malicious. Neither referee even called a foul initially because he so clearly got the ball!

The ball takes the entire force of the tackle as he puts his foot directly on it. It’s actually such a perfect foot on the ball, that it doesn’t bounce away in another direction. Therefore, his foot does indeed roll over the ball and catch Nelson Quinones. Again, Quinones didn’t take the actual force of the tackle. The ball did. But he makes the most of it and his being down on the ground during the discussion did no favors for the SKC winger.

The bottom line is that Johnny’s foot DOES go over the ball and catch the player. We’ve seen plays like this also result in a red card.

So personally, I don’t think it’s a terribly outlandish call. But it is VERY unlucky for Johnny. Other referees, not named Chris Penso, would not have given this red card.

On this episode of Shades of Blue, we’re analyzing Johnny’s red card as well as Peter Vermes’ yellow card for showing too much emotion. Plus we look at the MLS Playoff picture and get ready for this weekend’s match against St. Louis CITY.

We’ve got some absolute gold post-game audio from Peter Vermes who was told he shows too much emotion by a fourth official. Plus, Benny Feilhaber also received a yellow card on the sideline during SKCII’s win over STL this weekend, and we hear his thoughts on the matter.

Find the KC Soccer Journal wherever you get your podcasts. Please subscribe, rate, & review! You can yell at Cody @ThatCodyTho, Thad @TheBackpost, and Robert @SpKCLife.

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