The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 17

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

Week 17 overview

There were six Video Reviews during Week 17 – three of these were for penalty kicks and three were for goal related incidents.


DC vs ORL: Review for offside in APP – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal – No offside.

What Happened: Ulises Segura (DC) scored a goal after receiving a through pass from teammate Lucas Rodríguez (DC) near midfield. The assistant referee had doubts about whether he was in an offside position and kept the flag down. Once the goal was scored the VAR checked the footage and determined that Segura had been offside on the through pass.

The Video Review Process:

  • Using the combination of the Game camera and the Left 18 the VAR and AVAR both agreed that Segura was ahead of the second to last defender.
  • The referee looked at both angles and he agreed with the VAR.

PRO’s Decision: Although this decision is a very tight one because the distance between the attacker and defender is small, it makes it possible to determine that the D.C. United attacker was in an offside position at the moment his teammate played the ball. This was a good use of Video Review.


DC vs TOR: Review for penalty kick (holding) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: On the taking of a corner kick, Ayo Akinola (TOR) and Frédéric Brillant (DC) were at the near post challenging for the ball; in the process, Brillant went to ground. The referee allowed play to continue having only seen a possible handball by Brillant.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR started the check by looking at what appeared to be a possible handball.
  • He saw the holding by Akinola using the Hand Held camera and the Low 50 angles and determined that it was a clear foul and recommended a review.
  • The referee viewed the Low 50 twice, once in regular speed and once in slow motion before deciding to award the penalty.
  • The review lasted 1:30.

PRO’s Decision: The offense where Akinola held Brillant from behind using his right arm over Brillant’s right shoulder is clear and the VAR was correct to recommend a Video Review, and the referee correctly awarded the penalty.


TOR vs ATL: Review for penalty kick (handling) – not given (88th min)


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: Alejandro Pozuelo (TOR) attempted to control the ball at the edge of the penalty area when the ball popped up, just as Pity Martínez (ATL) was about to gain possession. Pozuelo then used his hand to knock the ball away from Martinez and gain control.

The referee originally saw the hand high, but couldn’t see if there is a touch on the ball as Pozuelo’s body obscured his view.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR first looked to see if the incident was reviewable. He saw that the possible handling was inside the penalty area (Low Right EZ).
  • The VAR checked to see if it was an actual handling offense. He noted that the hand had moved towards the ball and recommend a review.
  • The referee agreed that it was a handling offense after looking at two different angles.
  • Before leaving the RRA, he asked to see the Low Right EZ to confirm that it was inside the area.

PRO’s Decision: This was a good use of Video Review because this was a deliberate handball. Pozuelo used his hand to make contact with the ball and prevent the opponent from gaining possession.


TOR vs ATL: Review for penalty kick (handling) – not given (94th min)


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: A free kick resulted in a ball being put in front of goal where Nick DeLeon (TOR) hit the ball with his arm while attempting to clear.

The referee was unsighted and did not see where contact was made, believing it to be the foot of DeLeon and he allowed play to continue.

When the ball next went out of play, he whistled for the end of the match.

This was an unusual situation as the referee had signaled for the end of the match as soon as the ball went out of play. The players were kept on the field while the check was being completed – as is the correct procedure – however, it would have been better for the referee to delay whistling for the end of the match to allow time for the check to take place.

The Video Review Process:

  • Within 20 seconds the VAR had identified the handball using the Low Left EZ camera.
  • Before he recommended the review the VAR checked for a possible offside from the initial free kick.
  • At 1:00, he recommended the review.

PRO’s Decision: This was a good use of Video Review as DeLeon’s arm was extended away from his body when he made contact with the ball with his bicep.


SEA vs VAN: Review for foul in APP – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: In the buildup to a goal, there was a challenge between goalkeeper Zac MacMath (VAN) and Justin Dhillon (SEA) where Dhillon played the ball which is then saved and rebounds off MacMath. Dhillon then brought his studs down on the top/side of MacMath’s foot, injuring him to the point that he was not able to get up and continue to defend.

After the rebound, possession of the ball is then regained by Seattle Sounders approximately 40-45 yards from goal and they proceeded to score from distance through Danny Leyva (SEA).

The APP is defined as the point at which the attacking team gained possession of the ball and then the phase of play that led to the goal/penalty incident. A save, deflection or rebound that does not result in control of the ball or a clearance that does not reach or is not controlled by a teammate does not reset the APP.

In this situation the ball is cleared by the goalkeeper approximately 30 yards up the field and possession is retained by Seattle Sounders. The APP was never reset from the initial play into the penalty area, so the contact with the goalkeeper is in the APP and the review was within the protocol.

Video Review Process:

  • The VAR only began to look at the incident because a goal was scored, as it was not a red card offense or a penalty kick. VARs are also instructed to look at every incident where a player is injured.
  • The VAR saw that Dhillon had stepped down on MacMath’s foot after he had played the ball using a combination of the Left 18 and Tight cameras.
  • The VAR deemed the action to be a careless foul and recommended a review.

PRO’s Decision: The contact by Dhillon caused MacMath to be injured and stay down unable to defend the goal and this then allowed Seattle Sounders the opportunity to shoot at an open goal. With that being said, seeing the goalkeeper injured on the ground after the challenge with Dhillon, best practice would be for the referee stop play immediately and call the medical staff onto the field to treat the injury to MacMath.

Although there may be differing views as to whether MacMath was injured sufficiently by the contact to cause him to be unable to continue to defend, the contact did not reach the threshold of a clear and obvious error and should not have been reviewed.


RSL vs SKC: RA review for offside in the APP – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal – No offside.

What Happened: A goal is scored with a diving header by Damir Kreilach (RSL). At the moment that the ball was crossed by Albert Rusnák (RSL), he was in a clear offside position. The VAR recommended a review and the referee correctly canceled the goal.

PRO’s Decision: This was a good use of Video Review to correct an offside decision.