Major League Soccer

Gary Smith criticizes referee after two 'avoidable' red cards

Lizzy Becherano
Gary Smith during Nashville SC v Inter Miami CF
Gary Smith during Nashville SC v Inter Miami CF / Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith has blamed referee Tim Ford for the two red cards dished out in the match against New York City FC on Friday, admitting both situations could have been avoided with better guidance. 

Smith criticized Ford for the lack of control moments before the double sending off occurred late in the first half, stating he “needed to take control of the situation a little bit stronger.”

The situation escalated when the referee called for a drop ball but gave vague and inconclusive signals, according to Smith. 

Ford initially placed the ball by Dax McCarty’s feet before a second of inactivity saw Maxi Moralez escape. The NYCFC player ran with the ball before McCarty chased him down and initiated the confrontation with an initial tackle. 

“The referee was vague about what should be done, and there were things that went on before that that started to boil over. A team goes two goals down when they started the game well, it can have an impact on players as well,” said Smith before going on a rant about the situation. 

“I wasn’t quite sure what he was asking the players,” Smith said. “Of course, I’m not next to him, but it seemed like he was saying ‘OK, you’ve got the ball, but where are you going with it?’ Dax was surrounded by three or four New York City players. OK, are we playing on? Are they allowing us to restart from the goalkeeper? It looked like it should have been a foul and it wasn’t.

"To give a drop ball, which is really what that is, I think Dax was bemused from his actions as to what the next steps were. Maxi, understandably, took advantage of that and said well ok if you’re not going to play I’m going to get going.”

Subsequently, both players will be sidelined for their upcoming Major League Soccer match.

The tumultuous events overshadowed Nashville’s victory over New York City FC - an impressive win that propels the Tennessee-based team into the play-off positions in the Eastern Conference table. 

“I think it soured what was an incredible result for us with a lot of players missing, we continue our home form here against a very, very good team,” Smith said. “Certainly I’m not saying they they didn’t deserve anything out of the game, but tonight we found the more important moments.”