OBETZ, Ohio – Crew assistant coach Ricardo Iribarren was standing right there, conferring with the officials and tugging at his own shirt.
He knows the language, so there wasn’t a communication barrier.
Those facts are important, because the Crew still vehemently feel they were wronged following a controversial goal that was disallowed during a 1-0 loss to Santos Laguna on Tuesday in a CONCACAF Champions League match in Torreon, Mexico.
Andy Iro scored in the 22nd minute off a cross by Emilio Renteria, but it was taken off the board.
The Crew said they were told at the time it was because the fourth official saw Rentería in an unnumbered and unnamed jersey that he put on after bleeding on his No. 20 shirt following an elbow to the face.
There is no FIFA rule requiring numbers.
The official CONCACAF referee’s report said Rentería re-entered the game without permission and thus the play was nullified and the Venezuelan was given a yellow card.
Iribarren, who coached several seasons in Mexico, vehemently disagrees.
“If you see the replay, the bench for Santos was yelling about Emilio’s jersey, not about reentering without authorization,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “The players on the field were asking for offside so it wasn’t even that.”
During a discussion with officials after the play, Iribarren tugged at his shirt on the right side of his chest several times. He said that clearly proves the conversation was about the jersey.
“They said Emilio didn’t have a jersey with a number on it,” he said. “That was the fourth official’s call.
“He never said Emilio entered the field without authorization. The fourth official called it off. He said the goal didn’t count; it didn’t count because Emilio didn’t have a number on his jersey.
“He said it in Spanish so there was no way I couldn’t understand,” Iribarren added. “You can see in the replay I’m grabbing my shirt showing that he said to switch the shirt because he had a spot of blood on it, which is OK because this is the rule.
“But not at any point did he call for the ref and say, ‘He entered the field without authorization.’”
The Crew have filed a protest with CONCACAF. Ironically, the incident was possibly seconds away from being avoided.
A team source said the blood was washed away with water and was almost ready to be handed back to Rentería, but he had already been allowed on the field.
After the goal was disallowed, Rentería put on the original jersey and wore it the rest of the game.
Duncan Oughton, who was on the ball waiting for the restart, said head referee Luis Rodríguez signaled for Rentería to enter after being given the OK by the fourth official, Ricardo Arellano.
“I read about the excuse they made that he wasn’t waved on, but you can clearly see the ref wave him on,” Oughton said.
Rentería hesitated before returning to play but the replay shows Rodríguez waving him in and a whistle can be heard before the ball is put in play.
“The official waved him in,” Iribarren said. “Emilio turns. The fourth official could see Emilio with a jersey without a number and Emilio gives a thumbs-up to somebody outside. It’s not me or anybody else, just the fourth official. It was a completely legal goal.”