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SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda has asked for his players to get the same treatment from referees as MLS stars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela, following his team’s 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.
San Jose saw Tommy Thompson sent off in the 56th minute as the Earthquakes extended its losing streak to five games and will now need a victory next Sunday on the road to Portland Timbers to guarantee a playoff spot.
Cristian Espinoza, Chris Wondolowski and Almeyda were all suspended for the midweek 2-1 loss to Philadelphia Union, while Almeyda has been sent off twice in recent weeks, the first time against LAFC on Aug. 21 and the second in the away loss to Atlanta on Sept. 21.
“Every game we have something that doesn’t go our way,” said Almeyda in a news conference after the game. “Our players know they shouldn’t hit. They know they should respect the referees. They know they have to put their soul into it every time they play, which they do. I think we’re one of the teams that fouls the least, with one of the least amounts of red cards.
“I’ve been sent off more than the players, and I don’t know why [I’ve been sent off], either.
“Hopefully next season will be a little more even. We live in a democracy and we live in a place like California where there is equality in many aspects. We want that to carry over into soccer and really see it.”
Almeyda suggested that fouls are called differently for different players and that the officiating hasn’t benefited his team of late.
“If they foul [Shea] Salinas, it should be judged in the same way as if they’ve fouled Vela,” said Almeyda.
“And if they foul [Chris] Wondolowski the player is judged as if he was Ibrahimovic.
“The day that there is real equality, we’ll have better football. Many of us risk our careers to come to this league. Some are content and others are losing hoping.”
Almeyda’s team dominated possession against the Sounders — who went down to 10 players when Xavier Arreaga was sent off in the 71st minute — but Jordan Morris netted a breakaway goal in second-half injury time, leaving the former Chivas coach feeling “impotent” about the ways things have gone this season in terms of the officiating.
“Many of us risked our careers in coming to this league,” he said. “Some are happy, others are losing hope. I met with first quality directors, GMs, owners, whatever, everybody that works here. There’s few times I’ve seen that in football. I feel honored being in this place, but I have a lot of impotence with what has happened throughout the season.
“I’m not saying this as a justification, I’m saying this as a warning, because we all have our pride, and we all dedicate passion, time and love to this.
“Since I’ve been living here, on Wednesday my father is having surgery again. He’s 8,000 kilometers away. He had surgery three months ago. My work is here, my respect is here, toward [the press], the refs, the league, the directors, the club that signed me. I’m not feeling the same treatment.”
San Jose travels to Portland on the final day of the regular season. The Quakes can reach the postseason if they defeat the Timbers — who are two points in front in sixth place — or if they tie and Dallas loses. Almeyda said regardless of what happens, he’s proud of his team’s improvement, which has seen San Jose already garner 24 more points in the standings than they did a year ago.
“I told them that if on the first day of preseason, if they were to have brought in a contract where they said we would have had a chance to make the playoffs on the last game, we all would have signed that contract,” he said.
“This team has changed a lot, so I can’t just stick with if we get in or not. I stick with something a lot deeper. A team that had 21 points last year, and with 85 percent of the same players we tried to be protagonists and competitive. They are and they were throughout the season. There’s a reality that some teams player better than us and are better than us. But there’s another reality that you cannot hide, which is the improvement of this team.”