Trailing 4-0 in the 40th minute of a 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup qualifying match October 22, Miami Nacional SC committed a foul on a Red Force FC player in the penalty box. The referee pointed to the spot and Red Force was given a chance to add a fifth goal to the one-sided game before halftime. They would not get that chance.
Miami head coach David Garcia entered the playing field to protest the call and refused to leave. According to Nacional’s head coach and their team president, the penalty kick was one of many calls that went against them in the first half. The penalty kick was the last straw for Garcia, and after a lengthy protest, he walked his team off the field, never to return.
The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) announced a punishment for Miami Nacional’s actions during the match. The National Soccer League club will be suspended for one year and has been fined an undisclosed amount. (Since the announcement, TheCup.us has learned that the amount of the fine is $1,000.)
This is the first time in recent memory that a team has walked off the field in the middle of a game during qualifying rounds or during the tournament proper, so this was the first time that the federation was forced to hand out a punishment for a team quitting before the end of a match.
“We were asked to send a letter to US Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline panel, after another very poor work of the referees that without my intervention could have ended with a very serious problem on the field,” said Miami Nacional president Gaston Basulto.
According to Miami’s team president Gaston Basulto, a series of bad calls by the referee led to his head coach’s on-field protest. Among his complaints about physical play, he claims that Red Force had as many as six offside plays that were not called in the opening 40 minutes. Those plays led to a pair of Red Force goals and the controversial penalty kick call that ultimately brought the game to an abrupt end.
With the win, Red Force advanced to the final round of qualifying where they would punch their ticket to the US Open Cup for the second year in a row and the fourth time in the last six years.
“I would like to thank USSF for their quick response to the action Miami Nacional took during our match,” said Red Force team president Gabriel Vega. I hope in the future they make it a bit tougher for teams to enter this prestigious tournament so that scenarios like this do not occur. But once again it is much appreciated that some form of punishment was taken to a team forfeiting and leaving the field mid-match. Red Force can now move on and look forward to represent the cup in the best way possible.”
Along with the announcement about Miami Nacional, the USSF also announced two player suspensions. Upon further review, Sporting Kansas City’s Diego Rubio got away with kicking Felipe Martins of the New York Red Bulls in the 2017 US Open Cup Final. After the Adjudication and Discipline Panel reviewed the incident, they handed down a one-game suspension to Rubio.
Elsewhere, Cal Victory FC’s Jesus Quintero received a five-game suspension after “making deliberate contact with the referee” during the club’s second round qualifying match. The forward received a red card in the 44th minute, but according to the referee’s report, Quintero stepped on the official’s feet as he walked off the field. Cal would win the game 4-2 despite playing the game shorthanded.