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Casey Stoney: Alex Morgan ‘didn’t get a lot of protection’ from referees

San Diego Wave forward Alex Morgan heads the ball in front of Portland Thorns defender Kelli Hubly. (Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports)

San Diego Wave coach Casey Stoney was not pleased with the officiating in her team’s 2-1 NWSL semifinal loss to the Portland Thorns, particularly when it came to star striker Alex Morgan.

Morgan, who missed the USWNT’s friendly matches with England and Spain earlier in the month due to a knee injury, was checked out multiple times by training staff during the contest, with her knee appearing to be a continuing issue.

Stoney called out the referees following the contest and expressed concern for Morgan’s safety.

“I think she took a lot of hits,” Stoney told reporters. “She didn’t get a lot of protection. It felt like there was at times one team out there. It was the home team. That was disappointing because I think, like I said last week post match, player safety has to be the key performance indicator for the officials. I thought they lacked that tonight.”

Despite her disappointment with the officiating — a consistent source of grief for coaches this season — Stoney went on to say that it was not the reason the Wave were eliminated from championship contention.

“We still created reasonable chances in the second half, but we looked fatigued to be honest,” she said. “I need to look at maybe what I could have done differently in the second half to get some result.”

This isn’t the first time Stoney has publicly commented on officiating this season. After a 1-0 loss to the Pride on Aug. 13, she criticized NWSL referees as a group. In that contest, a controversial handball led to a penalty kick goal from Orlando’s Meggie Dougherty Howard in the 23rd minute.

“If we score our chances we don’t have to rely on poor officiating,” she said after that loss. “I’m gutted because the players, the club, the league deserve better.”