New England midfielder Jermaine Jones faces a lengthy suspension after making physical contact with referee Mark Geiger in the Revolution’s season-ending 2-1 defeat at D.C. United in a Knockout Round match on Wednesday.
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United States midfielder Jones raced to confront Geiger after Geiger declined to award a late penalty against United after Sean Franklin appeared to handle inside the penalty area. Geiger previously awarded a penalty kick — subsequently missed by Chris Rolfe before Rolfe slotted home the winner in the final 10 minutes — against Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell for handling in a similar situation.
In his fury, Jones expressed his considerable displeasure by making contact with Geiger multiple times. Geiger then showed Jones a red card in the 88th minute as the Revolution eventually exited the postseason at the first hurdle despite Juan Agudelo’s stunning bicycle kick.
“It’s easy," Jones said. "We get a penalty against us. He’s real quick. He said penalty. We have to take it and they miss it. They score. We get the exact same. The ball goes into the hand of the guy. The guy from D.C. says the same — it’s a handball. I go to him. I don’t like how he handled it and how he said it. It was a little bit of arrogance — ‘nah, nah, nah, it’s nothing.’
"I think everybody who came today can see it was a 100 percent penalty," Jones continued. "OK, my patience after went a little bit high. But I think it’s normal. There are only two minutes to go and then you’re out. For what happened after, I am sorry. I play with the national team. Maybe it cannot happen, but it happened. People who know me know I’m not a good loser. I try everything. In that moment, I was really upset. I think if you give Scotty’s penalty, you have to give this penalty, too.”
Jones’ repeated apologies do not alter the likelihood of a protracted ban to start the 2016 season. His previous conduct in Germany — including an eight-week suspension for stomping on Marco Reus’ foot back in 2012 — may not factor into the calculus, but this incident will rule him out for the early stages of the next campaign nevertheless.
United forward Fabian Espindola — one of the main protagonists on this night after he drew a foul and served the free kick for Chris Pontius’ equalizer on the stroke of halftime and prompted Rolfe’s winner — received a six-match suspension after shoving an assistant referee during the playoffs last year.
Jones also alluded to his previous history with Geiger as he processed and explained his actions. Jones made physical contact with Geiger during the 1-1 draw between these two teams back in May, but Geiger declined to send him off in that instance.
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"The defender’s arm was in a natural position and because of the short distance, it was also no time to react. Case of ball to hand."
“I was upset," Jones said. "I was really upset. There were like two minutes to go. I take the ball and I can take it down and shoot. He took it down with his hand and it goes. Straight after, the guy who touched the ball with his hand, he goes, yeah, it’s a penalty. But what can I do? I see the penalty from Scotty. And I see this penalty, it’s the exact same. The problem is not only this game. It’s always the games when Geiger has us. There’s always something happening. And there’s always something happening against us.”
Geiger drew considerably scrutiny this summer after awarding a dubious penalty to send Mexico through to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final earlier this summer. Jones said he thought MLS should select its referees with the importance of the games in mind and noted the previous issues between United, the Revs and Geiger.
“These are important games, not only for the players, but for the clubs," Jones said. "These are really important games. If you have a referee that cannot handle it, and D.C. say they have a problem with him and we say we are not happy with him, then something is wrong. I would say that I’m not happy with what happened today. The only thing I can say is that I apologize for what I did after. I apologize — from being a national team player and all of this stuff. It cannot happen. I’m sorry for that. But everyone who knows me knows that I hate to lose. I would not go crazy if I was not 100 percent sure it was a penalty at that point. Now I sit here with my boys and we’re out. We’re on holiday now. That pissed me off, yeah.”
“We have to put it away and say it is done," Jones said. "I can only apologize for what happened. But sometimes something happens with heart. I will put it away. I would say, man to man for Geiger, I am sorry and it will not happen again.”