New York Red Bulls midfielder Juninho has suggested LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan is being protected by referees in the MLS.
The 38-year-old has only been playing in America since March, having signed for New York in December 2012, but he already feels the USA international is looked after by officials due to his high standing in the American game.
He came up against Donovan on Sunday when New York met LA Galaxy, and he was on the winning side as a late Tim Cahill header won the game for the former Brazil international’s side.
Despite his concerns about Donovan’s protection, he also praised the forward for what he has achieved in his career.
“He’s a good player,” he said. “He is one of the best players from US history, he’s a good example for US youth, as a player who has done well on the international stage also.
“He gets a little bit of advantage with the referees, he’s very respected, I feel like I have a little bit of a disadvantage because I don’t speak English with the referee.
“It was a pleasure to play against him and play against good players. He’s a key player for them, and after Beckham leaving his responsibility becomes even bigger in that area of the field.”
The last-minute victory keeps Red Bulls top of the Eastern Conference, and although they are three points clear of Sporting Kansas City, the former Lyon man knows it will be a challenge to stay there at the end of the season.
“It is always important to beat one of the better teams,” he added. “The confidence is building. But it’s a long competition and it includes play-offs so it’s kind of misguided to think that you’re the best at any point. But everybody is obviously really happy and the confidence is building.”