Mark Geiger, considered one of the best referees in MLS, will work Sunday’s Eastern Conference semifinal between Atlanta United and NYCFC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta United won the game’s first leg 1-0. The winner will advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Fans of the Five Stripes expressed their displeasure on social media when the game assignments were released on Tuesday.
Geiger has worked the World Cups in 2014 and 2018, but has a reputation, perhaps unfair, in MLS of inserting himself into big moments in big games.
It is described as being “Geiger’d.”
It happened twice to Atlanta United this season.
Geiger was the referee for Atlanta United’s game against Sporting KC on May 9 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta United lost 2-0. Geiger correctly issued a red card to goalkeeper Brad Guzan for the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity in the 34th minute. He also controversially disallowed a Josef Martinez goal for offside, though the ball came off a Sporting KC defender who attempted a play on a pass from an Atlanta United player to Martinez.
Geiger became a part of the story 11 days later when Atlanta United hosted New York Red Bulls. Working as the VAR, Geiger recommended a review of a Martinez goal. The goal was disallowed. The score would have given Atlanta United a 2-0 lead. Red Bulls went on to win 3-1.
For the season, Geiger has worked as the referee in 13 MLS games. He has awarded 289 fouls, 34 yellow cards and four red cards. Three Atlanta United players, Eric Remedi, Hector Villalba and Martinez received yellow cards in the first leg of the series. If they receive another on Sunday, and Atlanta United advances, they will be forced to miss the first game of the conference final.
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