Successful appeal helps set new MLS precedent

Heaps excited about league’s innovative procedure for correcting mistakes

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A bit of history was made on Tuesday evening as the New England Revolution became the first club in MLS history to successfully appeal a red card.

Fernando Cardenas was ejected in the 81st minute of last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake after colliding with defender Jamison Olave, but replays showed that the initial challenge from Cardenas never made contact with the RSL center back and the impact was actually created by Olave coming down on the top of Cardenas’ foot.

The Revs officially lodged an appeal after the match and it was announced on Tuesday that the red card to Cardenas had been lifted.

“You can’t go back and get him onto the field,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps, whose side played the closing stages at Rio Tinto Stadium with 10 men. “It would’ve been nice because in the heat of the moment, from where we sat, it just never felt like a red card … So to have him sent [off], it was disappointing. But this is why there’s a process in place.”

The process to appeal red cards is new for the 2012 season and with the Cardenas ejection the Revs were actually the first club to appeal a decision. Because there was no standard by which to judge the merit of prior appeals, there was a measure of uncertainty involved with the entire procedure.

Careful deliberation was required because of the potential repercussions of having an appeal rejected, including losing the ability to appeal future decisions and monetary penalties. Ultimately, the Revs felt their case was strong enough to merit the considerable risk involved.

“We never knew how this was going to turn out because there’s never been a precedent set, so we certainly were out in uncharted territory,” said Heaps. “But at the same time, I think the fact that it was a collective decision made it a lot stronger from our side.

“We have to credit, first of all, ownership for stepping up and taking the initiative, and management,” Heaps added. “We felt like it was out of principle that we really should fight this one and we did.”

Because of the successful appeal, Cardenas will have the automatic fine and suspension rescinded and the Colombian attacker will be eligible for selection this weekend when the Vancouver Whitecaps visit Gillette Stadium.

Although the Revs can’t undo Cardenas’ absence from the final stages of last weekend’s loss at Rio Tinto, Heaps holds no grudges. The 11-year MLS veteran is understanding of the difficulties faced by referees and is simply appreciative of the new process to correct mistakes.

“Look, referees are human,” said Heaps. “If I couldn’t correct a lot of the mistakes I’ve made later as a player or even in life (I’d be in trouble).

“Sometimes, you don’t see it,” he added. “Fortunately on Saturday night the replay confirmed that the referee didn’t see it and we were able to get Fernando back. I’m excited that there’s a process in place to do that.”