Ignoring a Major Soccer League gag rule, Blast coach Kenny Cooper yesterday ripped into league officiating generally and director of officials Herb Silva specifically.
Four days after his team had been beaten, 5-4, in double overtime by the Wichita Wings, Cooper is still livid over the officiating that he said "robbed" his team of a victory.
"It's not my job as a coach to let the officials get away with a performance like that," said Cooper, whose comments apparently violate the MSL's rule against public criticism of referees. "All we're told is to keep our mouths shut. But I want to sleep at night. Not being able to talk is part of the problem. I want to know why officials are allowed to get away with mistakes, performances like that one."
Sunday, the Blast was called for 23 fouls to Wichita's 12. The Wings had four power plays, the Blast one.
Cooper said the officials are "taking the game from the players and are unapproachable." He said Silva has had it in for the Blast for more than a year. He said with 12 games to go in the regular season and a five-team battle for the final three playoff spots, he "wants a level playing field.
"No one is looking for unfair advantage," he said. "But you can't talk to them. Players can't talk to them. So where do you go? You go crazy."
MSL commissioner Earl Foreman said the game film is being reviewed and the Blast's complaints studied.
Foreman said if the films show "officials blew a call, we'll say so."
Silva, who is a dentist in St. Louis, did not return a message left at his office yesterday.
Cooper accused the referees of acting like policemen, causing "more stops than traffic lights."
He suggested a clinic be held with coaches and referees and that the league arrange a seminar for referees with a current or former NBA official, who could detail ways of developing respect and communication between refs and players.
Blast forward Domenic Mobilio called Sunday's officiating "sickening." He said he'd been kicked repeatedly early in the game but the referees refused to call anything for 3 1/2 quarters.
"Then, with 3 1/2 minutes to go, I get slightly tripped. I maintained control of the ball, but as I'm passing it to Joey [Koziol], who scores, the ref [Marty Templin] blows the whistle and disallows the goal.
"And then, he comes up to me and apologizes. 'It's my fault,' he says. 'I thought you were going to fall, I'm sorry.' I couldn't believe it."
The situation is "diabolically wrong," said Blast midfielder Billy Ronson. "The game is about players, not refs."
Despite the alleged misdeed by Templin, Cooper said Silva is the main culprit.
"I don't feel it's in the best interest of the Blast to have him involved with our games," Cooper said. "I've filed a formal complaint. I don't want to see Herb again, unless it's at a league meeting."
L The Blast is 3-15 in games refereed by the veteran official.
"Kenny's a pro," said Foreman. "I don't know anyone who can manipulate officials better than he can. He knows a ban on Herb isn't going to happen. . . . What kind of a commissioner would I be if I did that?"