The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 19

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

Week 19 overview

There were six Video Reviews during Week 19, with three of the reviews occurring in the game between Real Salt Lake and Philadelphia Union – the first time that has happened this year.


HOU vs LA: Review for penalty kick – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: Los Angeles FC appealed for a penalty kick when attacker Josh Pérez (LAFC) came together with defender Adam Lundkvist (HOU) just inside the Houston Dynamo penalty area, causing both players to go to ground. The referee waved away the appeal and allowed the game to continue.

The Video Review Process:

  • While play continued, the VAR checked the footage and saw contact between the legs of the two players.
  • At 1:22 the VAR recommended a review as he deemed it to be foul contact by Lundkvist.
  • The referee is shown the Tight angle and formed a different opinion. He deemed the contact between the legs to have occurred when Pérez kicked the back of Lundkvist’s leg.
  • The review is over after 2:10 as the referee maintained his initial no-penalty decision.

PRO’s Decision: On balance, no penalty looks to be the best decision as the contact was made when Pérez kicked the back foot of Lundkvist, and certainly the non-award of a penalty kick was not a clear and obvious error.


RSL vs PHI: Review for red card (serious foul play) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Reckless Challenge – Yellow card.

What Happened: A yellow card was issued to Damir Kreilach (RSL) for a late foul challenge on Kacper Przybylko (PHI). The referee deemed the challenge to be reckless but without excessive force and showed a yellow card.

The VAR recommended a Video Review for a red card for Serious Foul Play.

The Video Review Process:

  • After 10 seconds, the VAR was ready to recommend a review, but since the trainer had entered the field to attend to Przybylko he took the time to select the angles to send to the referee.
  • The VAR saw the studs of Kreilach’s left foot were exposed and made contact onto the left Achilles of Przybylko well after the ball had gone.
  • After 45 seconds the VAR formally recommended the review.
  • After looking at the footage, the referee maintained his view that the challenge was reckless but lacked the necessary excessive force to be considered serious foul play.

PRO’s Decision: The actions of Kreilach fulfilled the criteria for a red card offense; they involved excessive force in a lunging action and endangered the safety of the opponent due to the point and type of contact. We are encouraging referees in MLS to be firm on challenges which involve brutality and as such we also believe the Video Review was appropriate in this case and should have resulted in the initial yellow card decision being changed to red.


RSL vs PHI: Review for goal for goal (boundary line) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Andrew Wooten (PHI) and awarded by the on-field match officials to make it 2-1 to Real Salt Lake. Players from Real Salt Lake immediately appealed that the ball had gone out of play, over the goal line in the APP, before it was crossed to Wooten to score.

The VAR could see that all the ball had crossed the goal line before being crossed to Wooten, and a goal kick should have been awarded to Real Salt Lake.

The review took 1:55 seconds from the goal to the referee’s signal to cancel the goal.

PRO’s Decision: Even without a camera perfectly aligned on the goal line, it is clear that the whole of the ball has completely left the field of play. This was a good use of Video Review to correct a clear and obvious error.


RSL vs PHI: Review for goal (offside in app) – given


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

What Happened: In the closing stages of the game a goal was scored by Damir Kreilach (RSL) but canceled by the on-field officials due to offside.

The Video Review Process:

  • The assistant referee correctly delayed the flag until the ball was in the goal.
  • Using the Left 18 camera the VAR and AVAR both agreed that the goalscorer Kreilach was being held onside by the back foot of defender Jack Elliott (PHI).
  • The VAR recommended a review 50 seconds after the goal was scored.
  • The referee looked at the footage to confirm the decision and gave the goal 1:55 after it happened.

PRO’s Decision: This is the type of incident that highlights why the delayed offside flag has been implemented. The offside decision was very tight and the attacker had an imminent attacking opportunity, which resulted in the goal. By keeping the flag down no one can say that they were distracted by the flag or stopped defending expecting a whistle. This was a good use of Video Review.


CHI vs CIN: Review for penalty kick (in or out) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Free kick – outside the penalty area.

What Happened: A free-kick was awarded to Chicago Fire just outside the FC Cincinnati penalty area when defender Kendall Waston (CIN) came together with CJ Sapong (CHI), who had flicked the ball past Watson and tried to move onto it as it dropped. There was contact between the two players and the referee whistled for a foul, awarding the direct free-kick just outside the penalty area.

The VAR formed the judgment that the contact had occurred in the penalty area or more specifically, on the penalty area line which forms part of the penalty area, and recommended a Video Review.

The referee looked at the footage and then changed his free kick decision into a penalty kick.

PRO’s Decision: Once the free kick had been given, the VAR needed to check for the location of the foul first and, after they determined that it occurred inside the penalty area, they then checked whether it was a foul or not. In this case, the foul called was not a clear and obvious error and the Left 18 shows that the contact occurred inside the 18. This was an appropriate use of Video Review.


MIN v DAL: Review for penalty kick (challenge) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: In time allowed for stoppages at the end of the game, FC Dallas appealed for a penalty kick when goalkeeper Vito Mannone (MIN) rushed out of his goal in order to try to intercept a long ball aimed for Bryan Reynolds (DAL). Neither Reynolds nor Mannone made contact on the ball as it ran through past them both; however, as Reynolds tried to move onto the loose ball there was contact between the two players primarily created by Mannone.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR, using the Tight and Low Mid angles saw that as Mannone and Reynolds came together, Mannone’s left leg gets in front of Reynolds just as he began to turn, causing him to fall.
  • After 55 seconds he recommended a review for a penalty kick.
  • The review is delayed due to a yellow card being issued to Jesse González (DAL).
  • The referee is shown the play three times in the Tight angle.
  • The referee awarded the penalty kick 2:50 after the incident.

PRO’s Decision: In attempting to get to the ball both Mannone and Reynolds miss time their challenge due to the ball being unexpectedly played by Chase Gasper (MIN). Both players overrun the ball and their contact occurs as they both try to adjust to the new direction of the ball. This then makes their coming together more of a case of incidental contact. However, Mannone does extend his left foot in what can be considered a clear secondary action to block his opponent from getting to the ball and for this reason a penalty kick can be awarded.

This review is supported, however, it is at the very low end of the line of intervention due to contact between the two players being more subjective in nature while neither had played the ball first.