The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 27

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

Week 27 overview

There were four Video Reviews during Week 27 – one for a clear error in the nonshowing of a red card for DOGSO and three for penalty kick decisions.


NYC vs NE: Review for a red card (DOGSO) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Foul – Yellow card for stopping a promising attack.

What Happened: A direct free kick was awarded by the referee to New York City FC for a foul by defender Antonio Delamea (NE) on Valentín Castellanos (NYC), and a yellow card was issued to Delamea for stopping a promising attack. Delamea and Castellanos had come together approximately 30 yards from the New England Revolution goal, with no other players in the immediate vicinity.

With all the criteria for Denial of Goal Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO) in place (direction, distance, defenders and likelihood of control) the VAR identified that a free kick awarded against Delamea in these circumstances would need to result in a red card for the defender, not yellow.

PRO’s Decision: The recommendation for Video Review was valid and once the play is in review, the referee can make a final determination on all aspects of the situation. When the VAR recommended the review, he provided the referee with an opportunity to not only assess whether a red card should have been issued for DOGSO, but also to again see the coming together between the players and assess the validity of the free-kick which had been awarded.

Even though the recommendation was for a red card, the referee can still look at all the other aspects of the play, including whether it was a foul or not. The referee would have been within his rights under the VAR protocol to cancel the free kick altogether.

The defender played the ball prior to making any contact on the attacker. The contact which then happened occurred somewhat naturally as a result of the players coming together after the ball had been played, and playing on would have been the more appropriate judgment for the circumstances which were presented in this case.


NYC vs NE: Review for a penalty kick – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal kick.

What Happened: In time allowed for stoppages, New York City FC appealed for a penalty kick after Alexandru Mitrita (NYC) had gone down in the New England Revolution penalty area under challenge from Andrew Farrell (NE). The referee initially awarded a goal kick to New England Revolution. The VAR recommended a Video Review for the possible awarding of a penalty kick because he felt that a clear error had been made not to award one.

Video Review Process:

  • The VAR asked the referee to delay the restart while he began to look for good angles that showed contact.
  • 0:15 – He located the point of contact and began to look for the best angle.
  • 0:30 – He looked at the Low 50 angle and asked for a reverse angle.
  • 0:40 – Having seen the Low Left EZ, he identified clear contact on Mitrita.
  • 0:55 – The VAR recommended a Video Review.
  • 1:30 – The referee viewed the Low Left EZ.
  • 2:00 – The referee made the VR signal and gave the penalty.

PRO’s Decision: Mitrita played the ball past defender Farrell in the New England Revolution penalty area, as Farrell went to ground and slid in front of Mitrita in an attempt to intercept the ball. Farrell arrived late and missed the ball completely, and came into contact at speed with Mitrita, who then went down over the outstretched legs of Farrell. There is no doubt that Farrell’s actions impeded the progress of Mitrita and this is a clear penalty. The referee changed his decision and awarded a penalty kick to New York City FC. This was the correct outcome in this situation.


CIN vs TOR: Review for a penalty kick (handling) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Corner kick.

What Happened: A direct free kick by Emmanuel Ledesma (CIN) was blocked by Tsubasa Endoh (TOR) in the Toronto FC penalty area. FC Cincinnati appealed for a penalty kick for handball, but the referee awarded a corner kick.

The VAR saw that the ball was actually blocked by the left arm of Endoh, which was not tucked in but was extended out and away from his body, which made him unnaturally bigger. The ball hit the arm directly and a penalty kick should have been awarded. The VAR recommended a Video Review for handling.

PRO’s Decision: The referee correctly awarded a penalty kick to FC Cincinnati. This was a good, efficient use of the Video Review system to correct a clear and obvious error.


POR vs SKC: Review for penalty (handling) – given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Penalty

What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to Portland Timbers for handball when a shot by Diego Valeri (POR) was blocked by defender Luis Martins (SKC). The referee believed the ball had been blocked by the left arm of Martins, which was extended out away from his body, making himself unnaturally bigger. He, therefore, awarded a penalty kick.

Video Review Process:

  • The referee informed the VAR that he saw the ball strike the left arm.
  • Using the Tight camera angle, the VAR saw the ball strike the right arm that is tucked in near his body.
  • After one minute, the VAR recommended a Video Review.
  • The referee was shown the Tight angle and saw that it struck the right arm that is tucked in and he decided to rescind the penalty.
  • The referee asked the VAR to check to see if the ball was out of play for a corner before he blew the whistle to know if the restart needed to be a drop ball or a corner kick.
  • The VAR confirmed the ball had crossed the goal line before the whistle.

PRO’s Decision: The ball had actually struck the right arm of Martins, which was tucked into his body and not making himself bigger. The ball would have struck the body of Martins, had it not hit the arm. This was not a handball offense.

This was a good use of the Video Review system to correct a clear and obvious error.