The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 28

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

Week 28 overview

There were seven Video Reviews during Week 28. This week we also explain the factors taken into consideration in one check – where it appeared that the ball may have crossed the goal line but no Video Review was recommended.


POR vs DC: Check for a possible goal – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: No goal.

What Happened: A ball from an in-swinging DC United corner struck the back of Paul Arriola (DC) near the far post, before it deflected off goalkeeper Steve Clark (POR) and traveled towards the goal. The ball was then cleared from very close to the goal line, between the goalposts, by Eryk Williamson (POR).

The on-field officials made a judgment that all of the ball had not crossed all of the goal line, and play was allowed to continue.

The Check Process:

The VAR checked the footage primarily using the ESPN broadcast camera located within the goal post, nearest to where the ball had possibly crossed the line. The footage from this camera showed that the ball was extremely close to having fully crossed the goal line, however, on the best available frame captured by this camera it appeared that the back of the ball had not quite passed the back of the goal line.

In the absence of conclusive evidence that the ball had fully crossed the line from the images he checked, the VAR did not recommend a Video Review. In isolation, this angle did not provide the conclusive evidence the VAR needed in order for a recommendation for Video Review to be made to award a goal.

PRO’s Analysis: The best frame from the Near POV camera was captured just prior to the ball being kicked clear by Williamson. There was a visible gap between the ball and the boot at the moment the image was captured. The goal post cameras capture at 60 frames per second, that visible gap fell in between the 1/60th of a second between frames. Hence the reason why it didn’t capture the actual moment that the ball was kicked; on the next frame, the ball had already been cleared.

However, the best frame captured in the POV camera in the furthest post, was a moment where it appeared that the ball had crossed the goal line into the goal. It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that the ball was very slightly further into goal when it was kicked clear.

This may be the very closest goal-line situation possible. Basically, the ball would have crossed the goal line for all of one frame, 1/60th of a second – and by a very small distance – depending on which blade of white turf marks the back of the goal line.


COL vs LA: Review for violent conduct – given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Red card.

What Happened: In added time and near the corner flag Cristian Pavón (LA) challenged Andre Shinyashiki (COL). He missed the ball and hit Shinyashiki in the shin area.

The assistant referee nearest the incident felt that the ball was already out of play when this happened and advised the referee that a red card should be shown for violent conduct.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR began to look at the incident before the referee has issued any misconduct as part of a normal check of a possible red card incident.
  • After the incident, the AVAR – who watched the live camera while the VAR did a check – announced that a red card had been shown.
  • The VAR then recommended a review for no red card because he saw only a reckless challenge and the contact was with the side of the boot and not the studs. Additionally, it was a challenge for the ball while it was in play and would therefore not be violent conduct.
  • The referee looked at the Right 18 and Left 18 and determined that a yellow card was the correct outcome.

PRO’s Decision: This was not a red card offense, as Pavón challenged for the ball, but missed and made contact with the shin of his opponent with the top of his boot. There was no excessive force and the tackle did not endanger the safety of his opponent. A yellow card for a reckless challenge was the correct outcome.


COL vs LA: Review for penalty kick – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: Very late in the match a cross was headed wide of goal by Rolf Feltscher (LA). At the same time as Feltscher went to head the ball, Danny Wilson (COL) attempted to play the ball with his foot. Feltscher arrived at the ball first and Wilson made some contact with Feltscher’s head after the ball was away.

The VAR, as per normal procedure, checked for a possible penalty kick and in doing so felt that a careless foul had been committed and recommended a review.

PRO’s Decision: Feltscher and Wilson were both attempting to play a 50/50 ball. Feltscher lowered his head while Wilson did not raise his foot in what could be considered dangerous play. There are mixed considerations for a careless foul in this incident, and the review should not have been recommended as it was not a clear and obvious error.


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


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: A cross by Tsubasa Endoh (TOR) was blocked by a sliding Ben Sweat (NYC). The ball struck him in the mid-section and then bounced up in the air where it made contact with the hand.

The referee saw the ball come off the torso and concluded that the hitting of the arm by the ball was incidental. The VAR saw the same contact of the ball with the body, but identified a secondary motion of the arm to the ball and recommended a review.

PRO’s Decision: Although the ball had rebounded off his body onto his arm in what would not normally be considered a handling offense, Sweat’s arm was raised early in an unnatural position high above his body, creating a barrier for the ball to pass. That arm also made a secondary motion towards the ball. This was a handling offense and a correct outcome for this review.


HOU vs MIN: Review for offside in APP leading to a goal – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: In the 88th minute, Ethan Finlay (MIN) scored a goal. As always, the VAR checked the goal for any infraction in the APP.

The Video Review Process:

  • 0:26 – The AVAR alerted the VAR that there was a possible offside offense by Angelo Rodríguez (MIN).
  • 0:40 – Rodríguez was confirmed to be in an offside position.
  • 0:55 – Looking at the behind the goal camera Left Goal POV they saw that Rodríguez was directly in front of goalkeeper Joe Willis (HOU) at the moment the shot was taken and that he was in the keeper’s line of vision.
  • Before recommending a Video Review the VAR checked to see the trajectory of the ball and how close Rodríguez was to the keeper.
  • 1:33 – A Video Review was recommended.

PRO’s Decision: The considerations for interfering with an opponent by blocking their line of vision were met. Rodríguez was directly in front of the keeper and within only a couple of yards. The trajectory of the ball went in a way that the keeper would have been late to see the ball due to the offside positioned attacker.


VAN vs HOU: Review penalty kick (handling) – given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Penalty kick for handball.

What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to Vancouver Whitecaps when a direct free-kick from Yordy Reyna (VAN) was blocked by Mauro Manotas (HOU) who was part of the Houston Dynamo defensive wall inside the penalty area.

Although Manotas initially blocked the ball with his body, immediately upon doing so both his arms came down onto the ball, making contact with it and effectively trapping it close to his body. This was a very unusual action.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR checked the footage, and he recognized the unusual nature of this action and clarified with the referee that he had seen the ball being blocked by Manotas’ body first.
  • The referee confirmed that he had, but he felt the actions of the player had unnaturally brought his arms to the ball, rather than the ball to the arms.
  • Because the arms were not extended out and had not stopped the ball on its route towards goal, and as such had not made the player bigger in the traditional manner we see in usual situations where players are penalized for handball, the VAR recommended a Video Review.
  • After looking at the footage, the referee maintained his view that the actions of the player brought the arms into contact with the ball in a way which was not a normal football action.

PRO’s Decision: This situation will split opinion due to its unusual nature. Some will see that the ball had already struck the body and as such Manotas gained no real advantage in this situation, nor did he make his body unnaturally bigger in the traditional sense. Others will see this action by the player as a deliberate movement of his arms towards the ball, even if instinctively, while he tried to block it, in a manner that appeared as if Manotas caught the ball. This is a subjective call, and as such, the award of a penalty kick did not reach the threshold of a clear and obvious error which is needed for a Video Review recommendation to be made.


SEA vs RBNY: Review offside in APP leading to a goal – given


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

What Happened: A goal was scored by Nicolás Lodeiro (SEA) but disallowed due to an offside call against his teammate Cristian Roldan (SEA) in the APP.

However, because the assistant referee had delayed raising the flag for offside until the end of the attack, an opportunity had been created for the VAR to check the accuracy of the offside decision.

PRO’s Decision: The VAR saw that Roldan had actually been played onside by Michael Murillo (RBNY) at the moment the ball was passed to him. The referee looked at the footage and reversed the original offside decision and awarded a goal to Seattle Sounders.

This was a very good, efficient use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error.


TOR vs COL: Review for red card (DOGSO) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Penalty kick and yellow card for stopping a promising attack.

What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to Toronto FC for a very clear holding offense by Lalas Abubakar (COL) on Jozy Altidore (TOR) in the Colorado Rapids penalty area. The referee issued a yellow card to Abubakar for stopping a promising attack.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR very quickly completed his check on the penalty aspect of the incident.
  • He then recommended a Video Review for a possible red card to Abubakar for DOGSO because he felt that Altidore would have been able to get control of the ball before any other defender.

PRO’s Decision: Due to the fact the ball was quite wide of Altidore as it was played into the penalty area, the referee felt there was a doubt that Altidore would control the ball in a position which could still be considered an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

In cases where there is doubt about a DOGSO incident, referees are instructed to reduce the level of misconduct because the ‘obvious’ part of DOGSO was not met. There is no doubt that this was a close call; however, the referee was correct to retain his yellow card decision and the Video Review was unnecessary.