Editors Note: The following article is an accurate reciting of the events of Wednesday’s match. All correspondents of Valiant 33, living or dead, who have in the past, or in the future may, contribute to any part of the Valiant 33 network, wholeheartedly agree and will answer to any and all statements made throughout this article.
Lee Harvey Oswald was a patsy and not a lone gunman in the assassination of John F. Kennedy Jr. The CIA secretly experimented on unsuspecting Americans with LSD. There was never an attack on a ship in the Gulf of Tonkin and it was used as an excuse to go to war. Flower City Union will not be making the 2023 NISA Playoffs. What do all four of these things have in common? History has shown that all of these “conspiracies” were in fact, true.
The good thing about not being a professional writer is that you don’t have to act professionally. The referee of last night’s match of Flower City Union against LA Force didn’t act professionally, so why should I? Marat Gurian, slightly balding, aging, with the beginning of man-boobs, was the 12th man on the field for LA Force. The terrible calls began early, with an offsides call against Noah Cavanaugh after only 19 minutes, when FCU should have had a 3-man attack. There was not 1, but 3 defenders behind him when this call was made. We should have known something was amiss though 27 minutes into the match. With Matt Bolduc standing behind him, the LA Force player fell on the ball and was awarded a free kick from near the corner flag. This went on to lead to 3 straight corners in a row. However, as poor as these calls were, it was the end of the first half where the referee being on the books for LA Force really made itself known.
The 38th minute saw Alioune Diakhate, FCU’s leading scorer, given his first yellow card. In real time the yellow card seemed light, but watching the replay it’s insane. Diakhate got in front of the attacker and took the ball, it doesn’t appear he even touched him, when the player flopped to the ground, and Diakate had his first booking of the night. It only got more ridiculous in the closing minutes of the half. When the ball went out of bounds in the 45th minute, Luke Ferreira sent the ball to the LA player ready to take a throw-in. However, unbeknownst to Ferreira, he had already received a ball from the ball boy, so when he let Ferreira’s ball go past him. Ferreira was given a yellow card for putting a second ball in play, it seemed as if the team leader in assists was trying to be taken out. If Diakhate’s yellow card was soft, this one was absurd. Stoppage time saw John Requelo Jr. making his way into the book, as he clearly pulled his feet back from a challenge. The LA Force player went flying untouched, and the referee sent Flower City Union into halftime with 3 yellow cards.
If the first half was bad for soft or incorrect yellow cards, the second half was where things really got going, with cards and calls. The half started off slowly, but it wasn’t until around the 68th minute that things took a turn again. An LA Force player carried the ball out of bounds over the end line. Okay, that makes sense that maybe the line judge didn’t see that. However, he then kicked it back inbounds, where it bounced off the Flower City Union player to drop at his feet, and a corner was somehow awarded. It makes no sense how someone further down, can kick it back, and that player is then the one judged to have taken it out of bounds. When the resulting corner went out of bounds, and there was not a ball boy to send it back, goalkeeper Michael Mejia walked over to get it and apparently should have sprinted, because he was given a yellow card for time-wasting.
After his card, Mejia sent the ball downfield, I don’t even understand what the next card was called. Diakhate headed the ball on, he wasn’t touching another player, but the referee immediately blew his whistle and gave him his second yellow card. If the card would have been for arguing, that might be plausible, but the fact that all he did was take a header, without being near even touching an LA player, it was blatantly cheating by Marat Gurian. Yes, I feel the need to repeat his name.
The 84th minute saw LA Force finally deciding to play along with the referee’s bias. Josue Cartagena was judged to have taken down an attacker in the box, but watching the replay in slow-motion multiple times, while there may have been contact, there was not nearly enough for the flopping the attacker made. While the penalty shot was cleanly put in, it should not have stood, as LA Force players entered the 18-yard box before the kick. The referee couldn’t overturn LA’s winning goal to follow a rule like that.
While Flower City Union played their short-handed time strongly, too much was going against them. The yellow cards stopped, but the bad calls didn’t. There was a play where the ball went off an LA Force attacker, so Mejia let it slowly roll out of bounds before picking it up, for it to then be called a corner kick. Or the pass from an LA Force attacker that went past the other and out of bounds in stoppage time, for them to receive a throw-in instead of it going the other way.
But why did I say this was a conspiracy? With wins on either Sunday or Wednesday, Flower City Union would have found themselves in a playoff position for the first time ever. One game thrown and given to the opposing team is a shame, but doesn’t make a conspiracy. This wasn’t a one-off incident though. The prior match saw similar calls that gifted the game early to Michigan Stars. In that game, Mejia came out to attack the ball, and upon close-up review, he did come in hard, but he got the ball and the attacker went diving over him. From this, Michigan was gifted a penalty kick and their game-winning goal. That game just seemed to be a few poor calls, but two games in a row? Now that’s corroboration of a conspiracy.
There’s an old episode of ‘The X-Files’ where the Cigarette Smoking Man states “What I don’t want to see is the Bills winning a Super Bowl. As long as I’m alive, that doesn’t happen.” He’s still alive, and they still haven’t. It makes me curious who’s pulling the strings to keep Flower City Union out of the 2023 playoffs… Am I saying the referee was paid to play for LA Force? Of course not. But am I strongly thinking it? Having watched NISA soccer all season, I’ve come to the conclusion that as a league, it’s pretty incompetent. However, the refereeing of these two games was too incompetent, even for NISA standards. It was so blatantly one-sided that either something was amiss, or NISA really just raised its bar for how useless it can be. As I told the referee as he left the field, before I was escorted out of the stadium by security, he was the shittiest excuse for a referee I’ve ever fucking seen. Either that’s the case, or he was just incredibly incompetent at hiding the fact that NISA has a Cigarette Smoking Man pulling the strings.