The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 11

The Definitive Angle is PRO’s analysis of the week’s Video Review use in MLS.

Week 11 overview

There were six Video Reviews, with one match having three reviews.


ATL vs ORL: Review for offside in the APP leading to a goal – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal – Onside.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Julian Gressel (ATL) and awarded by the on-field officials.

The VAR checked the goal and on doing so could see that Hector Villalba (ATL) was in an offside position when the ball was passed to him in the APP, prior to him crossing the ball to Gressel.

The Video Review Process:

The VAR identified a possible offside during live play.

15 seconds after the goal is scored he has established the kick point (the moment a teammate last touched it).

The VAR and AVAR zoom in on the Left 18 camera because they realized that Villalba was in a possible offside position and determined it was close.

They take a few more seconds to make sure that they have the exact kick point.

1:20 after the goal they used the lines on the field and compared the attacker and defender’s positions to recommend a review.

PRO’s Decision: Although the margin of offside was small in this case, the camera angle and body positions of the players meant the VAR was able to accurately assess this situation, and was able to establish that the non-award of offside initially was a clear and obvious error. This was a good use of the Video Review system.


NE vs SJ: Review for DOGSO – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Penalty kick and yellow card for DOGSO with attempt to play the ball.

What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to New England Revolution when Harold Cummings (SJ) fouled Teal Bunbury (NE) inside the penalty area. As Cummings tried to move into a position to make a challenge, there was some upper body contact on Bunbury. Cummings also made leg to leg contact on Bunbury, who went down, before Cummings managed to make contact on the ball.

The on-field decision involved showing a yellow card to Cummings for Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity with attempt to play the ball.

The VAR deemed that there was no attempt to play the ball in this case and as such recommended a Video Review for the showing of a red card for DOGSO. The referee looked at the footage in the RRA but decided to stay with his initial yellow card decision. The penalty kick was converted by New England Revolution to make the score 2-0. They went on to win the game 3-1.

The Video Review Process:

The VAR checked the footage to first establish if the penalty decision was not an error, which he confirmed in about 30 seconds after he saw contact with the upper body and a hold around the waist.

VAR then quickly checked for any offside in the APP leading to the penalty, which there was not.

The VAR then attempted to contact the referee to see what type of foul he is calling (the referee is managing the players at this time).

1:40 on from the incident the referee responded that he had both upper body and lower body foul, and has cautioned.

The VAR recommended the review for a red card DOGSO on the basis that he does not see any lower body foul.

At the RRA the referee confirmed his original decision after he saw the contact on the knees in an attempt to play the ball.

PRO’s Decision: Cummings’ actions, when taken as a whole, can be considered an attempt to play the ball, rather than a cynical holding/pulling action merely designed to stop an opponent, which the red card DOGSO punishment is primarily intended for. This was an unnecessary review as the on-field decision to punish with a yellow card was not a clear error.


LA vs NYC: Review for offside in APP leading to a penalty


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Offside (Referee had a handling penalty if incorrect).

What Happened: A cross by Anton Tinnerholm (NYC) was blocked by the raised right arm of Carlos Antuna (LA) within the LA Galaxy penalty area.

However, a penalty kick was not awarded because the flag had been raised by the assistant referee to indicate that Tinnerholm had committed an offside offense earlier in the move. Because the offside judgment was a close one, the assistant referee had delayed the raising of the flag until the end of the attacking move, which in this case was when Antuna handled.

The Video Review Process:

Within 10 seconds the VAR could see that Tinnerholm had not actually been in an offside position when the ball was played to him, as he was being played onside by an LA Galaxy defender on the opposite side of the penalty area.

The VAR then checked to confirm that there was a handling offense as both the referee and the AR have stated that they had a handball, if the player was not determined to be in an offside position.

45 seconds after the offside infraction the VAR recommended a review for an incorrect offside in the APP.

At the RRA the VAR showed the referee the handling using the Tight camera first, however, the referee stated he was sure about the handling and needed to see the offside.

Once Tinnerhorn is confirmed to be onside, the referee confirmed he had a penalty.

PRO’s Decision: The arm was above the head in an unnatural position when it was hit by the ball and was a clear handling offense. The AR used the delayed offside flag process correctly, which opened a window for the VAR to check whether the offside decision, and by consequence, the non-awarding of a penalty kick to New York City, was a clear and obvious error.

This was an excellent use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error in a key match situation.


COL vs RSL: Review for penalty kick – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: Sebastian Saucedo (RSL) burst into the Colorado Rapids penalty area in possession of the ball, being pursued by Sebastian Anderson (COL). As he did so, the right leg of Anderson moved into the back of the left leg of Saucedo, bringing Saucedo down.

The referee initially allowed play to continue and awarded a corner kick to Real Salt Lake.

The Video Review Process:

Using the Tight camera, the VAR saw there was no contact on the ball from Anderson before he made contact on Saucedo.

After one minute he also identified the foot of Anderson had caused Saucedo to fall and recommended a review.

PRO’s Decision: A penalty is the correct outcome in this case and certainly if the referee had awarded a penalty kick from the outset the VAR would have quickly completed a check.


COL vs RSL: Review for red card for Serious Foul Play


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Red Card – Serious Foul Play.

What Happened: After a heavy touch by Jonathan Lewis (COL) near to the center of the field of play, he was challenged by Justen Glad (RSL). Glad won the ball but was reckless in the way he did so, going to ground with a raised right foot which thereby exposed his studs. Glad entered the challenge with some speed. However, the challenge was made with one foot, his other being tucked behind him, and the follow-through contact was low on the end of the boot of Lewis, by which time Glad had begun to lower his foot which minimized the impact of the contact.

The Video Review Process:

The VAR saw the contact with the ball first and then the contact on the foot using the Low Mid camera.

30 seconds in the VAR stated he was going to recommend a review because he felt it was worthy of only a yellow card.

The referee saw the play in close-up in slow motion to verify the details of the tackle, i.e. the contact on ball and low contact on foot. He then asked for a wider view where he could assess the speed and force of the action in regular speed.

PRO’s Decision: This was a reckless foul challenge and as such a yellow card is an appropriate outcome. However, due to there being some elements of serious foul play it is difficult to conclude that the initial red card decision made by the referee was a clear and obvious error, when working to a high threshold of intervention.


COL vs RSL: Review for penalty kick for handling – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: Colorado Rapids were attacking the Real Salt Lake goal, sending a wide free-kick into the penalty area. The ball was hooked away by a Real Salt Lake defender before hitting the right arm of teammate Nick Besler (RSL).

The referee allowed play to continue.

The Video Review Process:

The review process began slowly because there were two potential handball offenses in close proximity, one by Nicolas Mezquida (COL) just after the possible handball by Besler.

Using the Tight camera the VAR checked to make sure the ball hit the arm and not the chest.

The VAR determined that Besler’s right arm was sufficiently away from his body to be considered worthy of a penalty kick award.

PRO’s Decision: The referee looked at the footage in the RRA but decided that no handball offense had occurred and therefore retained his original no-penalty decision.

Although the ball does hit the arm of Besler, it is very subjective as to whether the position of the arm is unnatural and worthy of being penalized. There is also the issue of the ball coming at Besler from a short distance unexpectedly having been played by his teammate. In this case, the Video Review was not necessary as the on-field decision was not a clear error.