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Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis

August 19, 2016
Whether he is dismissed or red carded, Vieira can't develop a questionable rep with game officials

Patrick Vieira got on a referee's bad side for the second within a month last Saturday.
Patrick Vieira got on a referee's bad side for the second within a month last Saturday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis Editor

Earned for better or worse, reputations can be difficult to shake, especially in this day and age of instant information and social media.

Take, for example, Patrick Vieira.

Some 25 games into his rookie season as a head coach, Patrick Vieira has forged two distinct different reputations, one that many coaches would love to be associated with, the other a tag that usually is unwanted.

On one hand, the Frenchman and 1998 World Cup winner has turned New York City FC from essentially a laughing stock in its expansion season and into a respected Major League Soccer side that is atop the Eastern Conference heading into this weekend's games.

That's good, that's very good.

On the other hand, Vieira could wind up getting a reputation as being a hot head with referees and other game officials. Within a three-week span, he has been banned from sitting on the sidelines with his team for a game at Yankee Stadium. Off the top of my head, I don't know if that is a first for a first-year coach, but it has to be quite rare.

And, that is not good at all.

Whether it is warranted or not, the last thing a coach, especially a first-year coach, needs is a reputation of getting sent off or accruing red cards. Referees, and that includes the man in the middle, his assistants and the fourth official, will look for future outbursts.

Even if he had a valid point, Vieira's ire has to affect the way game officials view him.

Even an innocent remark from coach to his players could be misinterpreted as a critical comment towards game officials.

A coach should be with his team on the bench, watching hopelessly, not yards away in a suite at a stadium, watching hopelessly, which is what Vieira probably will do when his NYC FC side squares off with the LA Galaxy at Yankee Stadium Saturday at 3 p.m.

Seriously, Vieira must find a way to change his tone when talking to officials or face more possible dismissals, red cards and suspensions. I realize officiating in Major League Soccer is far from what Vieira is accustomed to in Europe (ie. -- check out what transpired in the Red Bulls' 2-2 draw at the LA Galaxy almost two weeks ago) and that game officials can be inconsistent and some downright awful.

In the first scenario in a 4-1 loss to the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena July 23, Vieira was dismissed from the sidelines after arguing with officials. He subsequently was suspended from City's 5-1 home win over the Colorado Rapids July 30 (assistant head coach Christian Lattanzio replaced him on the sidelines).

Scenario No. 2 came after City played the host Columbus Crew to a 2-2 draw. Vieira received a red card and was dismissed "for irresponsible behavior" after the final whistle (hey, I thought coaches don't get red cards, at least during matches).

You don't want a hat-trick any time soon.

Who knows?

Given what he has achieved in a short amount of time, Vieira might have piqued the interest of a European club and might be whisked away in the offseason. Then, he won't have to deal and talk with MLS game officials anymore.

The problem is that a reputation could follow him overseas and that is a reputation that could be difficult to shed.

Someone as talented and gifted as Patrick Vieira doesn't need that albatross hanging from his neck or that rep following him around.
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