The Union’s 2-0 loss in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal at the hands of Club America was painful for fans to watch at times, but certainly not as painful as it was for Union defender Olivier Mbaizo.
Mbaizo was chasing down a long pass along with Club America’s Mauro Lainez when Lainez threw out his right arm into the Cameroonian’s face. The ball rolled out of bounds as Mbaizo went down, holding his face. No foul was called on the play.
This sort of thing happens all the time in soccer and some would argue that Mbaizo’s acts were merely theatrics in an attempt to draw a foul. But another look at the video tells us that Mbaizo definitely had a case.
Lainez catches Mbaizo squarely in the mouth and knocked out at least one of Mbaizo’s teeth in the process. Certainly a referee can’t see everything, but contact so hard to dislodge a tooth is certainly worth a whistle.
Mbaizo heroically returned to the game, but the pain forced him out of the game minutes later.
In a game in which a handful of referee calls and no-calls could have meant the difference, the no-call on Lainez’s dentistry may have been the most egregious.
“You had some calls, big calls, that went against us,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said to reporters, addressing several questionable officiating decisions. “The elbow to Olivier’s face where he literally loses his tooth on the field was interesting as well. So the little things went against us.
“Look, I don't want to stoop down to that level to blame the referees. I think you guys saw it. I have my thoughts of what it should be, right? I think that we didn't get the calls our way. But that's how it is.”