By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer
The first Play of the Week of the 2016 MLS season is from Orlando City versus Real Salt Lake, exploring the dilemma that assistant referees face when they are not 100 per cent sure of all the information required to make an offside adjudication.
This play highlights the importance of dialogue with the referee. It’s called the jigsaw decision, when both officials have part of the information – when they put the pieces together, they have all the information and can arrive at the correct decision.
In this play, the ball is passed into the penalty area and goes to Cyle Larin, who puts it into the net.
At this stage, AR Kevin Klinger is unsure whether Brek Shea actually got a touch on the ball. Klinger is aware that if Shea touched or played the ball this would put Larin in an offside position and the goal would be invalid. Alternatively, if he didn’t play or touch the ball, Larin would be onside and the goal would stand.
It would have been incredibly difficult for Klinger to make this judgment from his position but he knows that referee Chris Penso is in a far better position to make the decision. He correctly does not raise his flag but stands still and asks Penso over the communication kit, who informs Klinger that Shea did in fact play the ball. Klinger then reacts by raising his flag and the goal is disallowed.
Having seen this play several times from various angles it is inconclusive whether there was a touch on the ball by Shea. Referee Penso has the best view from an optimum position – better than the camera angles – so therefore you have to support the referee’s decision, but more important than that was the process in which the decision was arrived at.
It was great teamwork by both officials, going through the correct process and putting both pieces of the jigsaw together to arrive at the correct decision.
Cyle Larin goes over to Klinger initially to protest but good player management by the AR, explaining the decision, has the desired effect and Larin leaves in an amicable manner. If you listen to the commentator, Brian Dunseth, he is very knowledgeable of the law and explains the process perfectly.