The simple answer is yes absolutely. But here at MLS Multiplex we looked into the numbers to show why this is true. We already have had 44 games into the 2016 MLS season and sadly for the league the main talking point so far have been the red cards.
16 in total in those 44 matches. “Too many red cards are ruining this game. Seems like a red card every game.” Said Bruce Arena during the press conference after his team, the LA Galaxy, drew 0-0 in Vancouver versus the Whitecaps. On that game, Caps midfielder Matias Laba received a straight red card after a challenge on Mike Magee.
“Too many red cards are ruining this game.” – Bruce Arena
Both Bruce Arena and Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson thought that it shouldn’t have been a red card for Laba. It certainly “ruined” the game as Arena mentioned. But going past the judgment of every red card on this league to see if it was the right call or not. We have compared the number of red cards of the MLS with the top six leagues in Europe (Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue I, Serie A and Eredivisie).
Even that football/soccer is different in every corner of the earth and certainly different across the pond. FIFA rules still remain basically the same and there shouldn’t be any reason why a league will show two or three times more red cards than another league.
Also, if the MLS is aiming to become a top league by 2022, as previously stated by Commissioner Don Garber, shouldn’t they aim to be similar to the Premier League? Arguably the best league in the world at the moment. However, they seem to be going away from the European parameter, at least on red cards.
As we can see from the chart above, based on the current rate of red cards the MLS will produce 124 reds by the end of the season. Tie with Serie A for the highest, although they would play 40 more games in Italy than in North America.
If these trends continue the MLS would double the Premier League in red cards and triple the Bundesliga. Something that we feel should be a no-no for this league. Even compared to last year MLS, the league have certainly be more radical in terms of red cards.
Last year MLS produced a total of 90 red cards, placing them in the middle of the European leagues, a normal spot considering that they played fewer games than in all these leagues except for the Holland Eridivise and the German Bundesliga. But this year, we are seeing on average 37% more red cards than last year.
More from MLS Multiplex
- Javier Milei Elected in Argentina: Potential Impacts on MLS and Signings of Argentine Players
- Orlando City and New York City FC in the Battle for Matías Arezo; Grêmio Enters Negotiations! Who Will Come Out on Top?
- USA, Honduras, Panama, and Canada Close in on a Spot in the 2024 Copa America
- De Gea Turns Down Al-Nassr’s Lucrative Offer: Speculation Points to Possible Reunion with Messi at Inter Miami
- Messi’s Magnetic Impact in the United States
The average of 0.36 red cards per game (or just above a red card every three games) is the highest average of them all. The Bundesliga site offers data on straight red cards and second yellow cards. According to the site, there have been 12 straight red cards in the Bundesliga this season, compared to 14 already in the MLS. Even that they have played 236 more games in Germany.
More from Los Angeles Galaxy
- The Return of Lucas Calegari to Fluminense
- Chicharito’s Departure from LA Galaxy
- LA Galaxy faces obstacles in potential signing of striker Álvaro Morata
- The Return of Douglas Costa to Juventus: A Risky Bet or a Shot at Redemption?
- Douglas Costa Leaves LA Galaxy: Opportunity or Premature Farewell?
The MLS have also produced more red cards than draws (12) or away victories (9) and the fact that only two of those 16 red cards have come after two yellows is a real sign of alarm. Another interesting fact is that out of those 16 red cards, 13 have been given to non USA or Canadian players.
According to the MLS Players by Birthplace 2016 guide, 245 players are from around the world while 290 are from either the States or Canada. Almost, a 50-50 split but over 80% of the red cards have gone to foreign players. 11 to players who have had experience in other leagues, three who had experience in at least one of the aforementioned European leagues. Maybe the different parameters used by the referees are a factor here.
After all, FIFA rules are by definition left to the interpretation of the referee if he considers a challenge as “reckless” or a player using “excessive force”. Looking at the numbers above, it certain that MLS referees aren’t interpreting challenges the same way that in Europe.
Which leave us to the question are they doing it better or worse? Well, as Bruce Arena said “Too many red cards are ruining this game”.