The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 23

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

Week 23 overview

There were six Video Reviews during Week 23 – four of them involved decisions about fouls in the Attacking Possession Phase (APP).


SEA vs NE: Review for foul in APP – given


Starting Point – On–field Decision: Foul – no goal.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Michael Mancienne (NE), who headed home from a corner kick. However, the referee disallowed the goal for a foul on Saad Abdul-Salaam (SEA), who went to ground within a group of players prior to Mancienne scoring.

The whistle to disallow the goal had been blown after the ball had entered the goal, thereby opening up an opportunity for the VAR to check whether the disallowing of the goal was a clear and obvious error.

The Video Review Process:

  • In the first seconds after the goal, the VAR checked to see if the whistle had gone before the ball had entered the net.
  • 0:12 – The referee confirmed he had a foul coming out and that he had held his whistle until after the goal was scored.
  • 0:40 – The VAR could see no foul and recommended a review.
  • The referee asked for a tight angle and agreed that there was no foul.
  • The Replay Operator played the Right 18 camera. The sound of the whistle came after the goal, and additionally, you can see that the referee did not have his whistle in his mouth at that moment.

PRO’s Decision: This was a good use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error in a match critical situation.


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


Starting Point – On–field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: Following a goalmouth scramble, a goal was scored by New England Revolution by way of own goal.

The VAR checked the goal as usual and on doing so could see that the ball had been kicked out of the hands of goalkeeper Stefan Frei (SEA) by Edgar Castillo (NE) just prior to the goal being scored.

The Video Review Process:

  • 0:00 – The VAR immediately recognized that there was a foul, but waited to see what the on-field decision was.
  • 0:15 – Using the Near Left Slash angle the VAR saw that Frei had complete control of the ball.
  • 0:25 – The referee relayed that the decision on the field was a goal. The VAR immediately recommended a review.
  • 0:45 – The referee arrived at the RRA and was shown the Low Mid camera once, and he agreed with the VAR that there was a foul.

PRO’s Decision: The video clearly showed that Frei had both hands on the ball and therefore had it under control when it was kicked first by Teal Bunbury (NE) and then Castillo. Kicking a ball which is in the control of the goalkeeper constitutes foul play.

The Video Review process worked exactly as intended with the correct outcome being achieved in a little over one minute.


SKC vs RSL: Review for penalty kick – not given


Starting Point – On–field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: A penalty-kick appeal by Sporting Kansas City after Aaron Herrera (RSL) challenged Felipe Gutiérrez (SKC) in the RSL penalty area was waved away by the referee. The referee saw Herrera made contact on the ball with his right foot before he made any contact on Gutiérrez.

The VAR felt that the touch was so slight that the attacker would still be able to recover the ball if there had been no contact on his foot and thus recommended a Video Review.

PRO’s Decision: There is no doubt the defender played the ball, which changes direction from the touch, before he made any contact on the attacker. When a defender plays the ball first, providing he does so in a manner which isn’t reckless, etc. it is usually deemed fair.

The referee felt that the contact on the ball was sufficient enough to deem the tackle fair. The referee then retained his original decision after having looked at it in the RRA.


TOR vs ORL: Review for penalty kick (in/out) – given



Starting Point – On–field Decision: Penalty kick.

What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to Toronto FC for a foul challenge by Benji Michel (ORL) on Richie Laryea (TOR). As Laryea moved towards the Orlando City penalty area in possession of the ball, Michel impeded his opponent by placing his arm over the shoulder of Laryea. There was also contact between the legs of the players. Laryea went down in the penalty area and the referee, believing the foul contact had happened in the penalty area, awarded a penalty kick to Toronto FC.

The Video Review Process:

  • Going frame by frame, the VAR established the moment when the upper body holding ended.
  • Using the Left EZ angle, he saw that the contact was outside the area.
  • The referee informed the VAR that he also had contact on the foot.
  • The VAR saw that the contact on the foot was also outside and recommended a review.
  • The referee watched the incident twice and then asked for a freeze-frame at the point of contact and then announced that he was giving a direct free kick outside the area.

PRO’s Decision: The VAR could see that the foul contact, both upper and lower body, had occurred outside the penalty area, just before Laryea had reached the penalty area line.
This was the correct outcome and a good use of the Video Review system.


LAFC vs RBNY: Review for a foul in the APP – not given


Starting Point – On–field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC) and awarded by the referee.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR first checked to see if Adama Diomande was in an offside position on the initial pass.
  • The VAR then checked the contact on Sean Davis by Kaye.
  • The VAR recognized that the trip had allowed Kaye to be open for the shot on goal.
  • The VAR, therefore, recommended a Video Review and the referee looked at the footage in the RRA and canceled the goal.

PRO’s Decision: This action, which was off-the-ball and had not been seen by the on-field officials, was almost certainly unintentional; however, it was careless and took Davis out of the play as it caused him to fall, thereby giving Kaye a clear unmarked run onto a return ball from which he scored.

The referee correctly canceled the goal and awarded a direct free kick to New York Red Bulls.

This was a good use of the Video Review system


ATL vs NYC: Review for a foul in APP – not given


Starting Point – On–field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Miles Robinson (ATL). The VAR checked the goal as usual and could see that Robinson had very clearly pushed his marker Alexander Callens (NYC) in the back just prior to heading the ball.

PRO’s Decision: This foul was significant as it allowed Robinson a free header. As such, a Video Review was the right decision, and the goal was correctly disallowed.