The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 14

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

Week 14 overview

There were two Video Reviews during Week 14 – one for a possible foul in the APP leading to a goal, and in the other, the referee looked at a mass confrontation.


DC vs CHI: Review for a handball in APP leading to a goal – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: Just prior to scoring a goal, Lucas Rodriguez (DC) appeared to handle the ball to be able to gain control and score.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR suspected that a hand was used to propel the ball forward.
  • The referee alerted the VAR to check for a possible handball.
  • The VAR considered that the player was stumbling and whether the hand moved up towards the ball.
  • He recommended a review based on the footage seen on the Hight Right EZ camera that showed Rodriguez’s arm away from his body, pushing the ball forward into his path.

PRO’s Decision: This is a good use of Video Review as the handball by the attacker is clear.

In 2020, with the implementation of the new law changes, this incident would be a much simpler review as all that will be considered is whether the ball touched the arm or not. There will no longer need to be a consideration of whether it was deliberate.


POR vs LAFC: Review for violent conduct (mass confrontation) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on – No misconduct given.

What Happened: In time allowed for stoppages at the end of the game, following a strong challenge by Jorge Villafana (POR), a confrontation occurred which involved several players from both teams near to the LAFC technical area.

The on-field match officials did not identify any red card-worthy actions in the melee but once the confrontation had abated a Video Review was undertaken to allow the actions of those involved to be examined.

On looking at the footage in the RRA the referee identified offenses of unsporting behavior by Adama Diomande (LAFC) and Brian Fernandez (POR), who had both demonstrated a lack of respect for the game. As such, both were issued yellow cards after the Video Review had concluded.

PRO’s Decision: This was an appropriate use of Video Review. Mass Confrontations present many difficulties for both the on-field officials and the VAR as, generally speaking, there is rarely one guilty party, and there are various levels on aggressiveness and contact. Identifying violent conduct is difficult.

The advice given to PRO referees in these types of situations is that they do not ignore any acts of violent conduct, but that they also consider coming out with a balance in punishment, if possible.

Many times the term “hands to the face” is heard. However, that term is nowhere to be found in the Laws of the Game. The act of putting a hand on the neck or face of an opponent in itself is not a red card offense. The referee makes a judgment as to whether an act of violent conduct has occurred, and as such when hands make contact with the face or head, there still needs to be other considerations present such as force, aggressive nature, etc. The Laws of the Game specifically stipulate that negligible contact does not constitute violent conduct.

The outcome of this incident is correct and balanced in the context of what happened as there were no acts that reached the level of violent conduct and the showing of the two yellow cards is within the boundaries of Video Review protocol.