Play of the Week 1: PK in DC vs. CLB

Mar 12, 2014

In the first PRO Play of the Week of the 2014 season, Paul Rejer looks at a PK incident in the DC United versus Columbus Crew match.

The PRO Training & Development Manager discusses two of the main initiatives for the season and looks at a perfect example of one of them being implemented in the opening weekend, at the RFK Stadium.

Rejer said: “Two of the main initiatives for the season from MLS and PRO was the six-second rule and holding in the penalty area.

“In the past, these tend to be areas that referees, worldwide, ignore. A stricter application of the six-second rule, and in fact all restarts, is intended to create more game time and less stoppage time.

“In law, ‘six seconds’ is only applicable to goalkeepers releasing the ball. Perhaps the IFAB (International Football Association Board), who are the lawmakers, should consider applying six seconds to other restarts for the benefit of the game.

“Holding in the penalty area, particularly at corner kicks and free-kicks, is an awkward one for referees as normally both defender and attacker are holding each other, which usually makes it difficult to spot the initiator.

“Prior to the start of the season a series of presentations were given to all MLS clubs with the players and coaches in attendance.

“They were told that referees would be enforcing the law on the six-second rule and would be showing a heightened awareness of holding in the penalty area, firstly by attempting to manage it by delaying the kick to warn the players, then with the help of their crew, keep focused on the players and if misconduct continues with the ball in play, award a PK or defensive free-kick.

“I was confident that goalkeepers would co-operate with the six-second rule initiative and that proved to be the case in the opening weekend.

“Our aim in the opening weekend was not to catch players out and surprise everyone but to penalize clear and obvious breaches of law, both on adjudication of the six-second rule and holding in the penalty area. Referees need to manage in such a way that they can clearly justify penalizing offenders.

“In the DC United vs. Columbus Crew game, from a corner kick, DC’s Perry Kitchen holds Columbus’ Michael Parkhurst and pulls him to the ground.

“The referee Andres Pfefferkorn has a clear view of the offense and awards a PK. Initially the DC players are upset with the call and surround the referee, but peace is quickly restored.

“This is a good example of the application of the initiative, as in the cold light of day when we see the replay, we are not puzzled by the awarding of the PK – it is clear and obvious, exactly what the players and coaches were told at the preseason presentations.”