Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes has blasted the lack of 'respect' shown to his players by referee Marcos de Oliveira during his side's 0-0 draw with Minnesota United.
Dubbed the "nicest rivalry in sports", Saturday's meeting was anything but, with a number of robust challenges and flash points.
Things became particularly heated when Remi Walter brought down Emmanuel Reynoso as the Minnesota playmaker raced away on the counter-attack. The challenge looked high, though Walter also appeared to be trying to back out.
Despite the foul occurring well inside the Minnesota half, De Oliveira decided to show Walter a straight red card, with VAR confirming the on-field decision. From there, the Loons dominated the match but were still unable to break down a stubborn SKC defence.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Vermes highlighted the incident as the undoubted turning point, scuppering any plans for his side to leave Allianz Field with three points.
"Up until the point of the red card, I think we had 72% possession," he said. "We were creating good stuff away from home and playing really well."
Vermes then went on to lambast De Oliveira's decision, accusing Reynoso of 'making a meal' of Walter's challenge and the referee of leaning his calls in favour of Minnesota.
He added: "The red card happens and I've had a chance to see it. I see (Remi Walter) going to poke (the ball) and he pulls his leg back. The player makes a meal of it and the referee gives him a red. I find it incredibly difficult to accept that in the game, whenever we got the ball, they would foul us in a tactical move. I understand that. But it's the referee's job to be the one who deals with that.
"Cam Duke was fouled many times within the first 20 minutes of the game and didn't even get a call. It blows me away. Four yellow cards and a red (for Sporting) to two yellow cards (for Minnesota). There are things I understand and things I don't understand. If you want to get to the game, I would tell you that it says a lot about our team to be able to go up against this challenge week in and week out."
But Vermes didn't stop there. The 54-year-old then stated his belief that De Oliveira showed his players a lack of respect, giving Minnesota free-kicks for soft challenges while waving play on as SKC tried to ride tough challenges with honesty.
"There are certain things that I can comprehend and other things that I just cannot," said Vermes. "When I say respect, I talk about respect for the players when they get fouled.
"The fact that guys on my team don't dive and try to fight through tackles and you can't realise that as you're calling a game? My guys respect the game. He respects the way he's playing. He actually respects the referee because he's not trying to dupe him. He's not trying to get the call. I call that respect.
"I call it a lack of respect when guys on our team are running through full stride, get tackled and don't get a call. A guy on the other team comes into the game, our guys chase him down, we have two guys around him, he falls down and our guy gets a yellow card. If you want to give that, I'll accept it. But do it for us as well. And it doesn't happen. It's sad. Time and time again, I'm disgusted with it.
"The incredible thing is that our team, left and right, fights our it. That's our mentality. They aren't going to be denied. They're going to work for it. I give them all of the respect in the world for that piece."