Play of the Week 32: Denial of an Obvious Goal in NY v MTL

By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer

In Play of the Week 32 we are looking at a DOG situation. Many people fail to identify the difference between DOGSO (Denial of an Obvious Goalscoring Opportunity) and DOG (Denial of an Obvious Goal).

The law is specific when it lays down the criteria of DOG and DOGSO:

Referees should consider the following circumstances when deciding whether to send off a player for denying a goal OR an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

– The distance between the offense and the goal

– The likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball

– The direction of the play

– The location and number of defenders

The criteria does not really apply with DOG as it is unique because the offender has not denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity as such. He has actually denied an obvious goal and this play is a typical example.

The play is from the New York Red Bulls versus Montreal Impact game, with Impact’s goalkeeper Evan Bush unable to hold on to Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips’ shot.

The ball went over the head of Impact defender Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo, who was on the goal line. He raised his hand to scoop the ball away, thus preventing it from crossing the goal line and denying the Red Bulls a goal.

Compare referee Ted Unkel’s positioning to the example in last week’s play.

Read more: Play of the Week 31 – Goalkeeper possession

Like last week, the play starts in midfield but Unkel’s starting position is a lot closer to the action, squeezing the distance between the ball and his AR.


He is also open-minded to play going in either direction. So when he has to make up ground from the Red Bulls’ quick attacking move, he does so in order to be on the edge of the penalty area.

He sees the deliberate handball offense from an optimum position with an ideal viewing angle. His PK award and producing the red card is positive, confident and emphatic.

As Oyongo leaves the field, you can see that he is resigned to his fate and has duly accepted his punishment. The commentators, however, cannot see the offense until the second replay and prefer to praise the cameraman rather than Unkel, who only has one chance to make the call.

Unkel would also have missed the offense had he not implemented initial intelligent positioning, anticipation and acceleration, which enabled him to achieve the optimum viewing position.