The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 14

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

Week 14 overview
There were five Video Reviews during Week 14.


MTL vs CIN: Review for penalty kick (handball) – not given


What Happened: A cross by Ahmed Hamdi (MTL) was blocked by Nick Hagglund (CIN) in the FC Cincinnati penalty area. The referee did not identify an offense in real-time and allowed play to continue. When the VAR checked the footage of the incident, he saw that the ball had been blocked by the left arm of Hagglund, which he had moved out into the path of the ball, extending away from his body and making himself unnaturally bigger.

The VAR recommended a Video Review for the possible awarding of a penalty kick to CF Montréal. After viewing the footage at the RRA, the referee concurred with the VAR and awarded a penalty.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick – handball.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:18.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious on-field error.


NE vs PHI: Review for penalty kick (handball) – not given


What Happened: The ball made contact with Jack Elliott’s (PHI) left arm as Dylan Borrero (NE) tried to knock it past him in the Philadelphia Union penalty area. The referee did not identify an offense in real-time and allowed play to continue.

When the VAR checked the footage of the incident, he saw that the ball had been blocked by the left arm of Elliott, which came into the path of the ball while extended out and away from his body, making him unnaturally bigger. The VAR recommended a Video Review for the possible awarding of a penalty kick to New England Revolution, and after viewing the footage at the RRA, the referee concurred with the VAR and awarded a penalty.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick – handball.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:28.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious on-field error.


TOR vs CHI: Review for goal (offside) – not given


What Happened: A goal was scored by Jairo Torres (CHI) and awarded by the on-field match officials. On checking footage of the goal, the VAR saw that Torres was in an offside position when a teammate shot on goal before that shot was saved by goalkeeper Quentin Westberg (TOR) and the ball rebounded to Torres to score.

Torres had committed an offense by gaining an advantage while in an offside position. The VAR, therefore, recommended a Video Review, and after looking at the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee correctly disallowed the goal.

On-field decision: Goal.
Type of review: No goal – offside.
Final decision after review: Offside.
Length of review: 1:45.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good, efficient use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious on-field error.


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


What Happened: A direct freekick was awarded to Toronto FC for a foul by Federico Navarro (CHI) on Alejandro Pozuelo (TOR), which the referee judged in real-time had happened just outside the Chicago Fire penalty area. Recognizing that the incident had happened very close to the edge of the penalty area, the VAR checked the footage to establish whether the non-awarding of a penalty kick was a clear and obvious error. He saw that the contact between the two players had clearly happened inside the penalty area. As such, he recommended a Video Review for a penalty kick to be awarded to Toronto FC.

After viewing the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee reversed his original direct freekick decision and replaced it with a penalty kick to Toronto FC.

On-field decision: Direct freekick.
Type of review: Penalty kick.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:45.

PRO’s Opinion: There is no doubt that the contact which the referee perceived to be foul contact was inside the penalty area, and as such, the VAR was correct to recommend a Video Review. However, there is a good degree of subjectivity as to whether the contact between the players should have been considered foul contact.

Navarro comes in from the side of Pozuelo and leans into him. The resulting contact was side to side and ended in Pozuelo going down. While some may see this as a foul with Navarro unfairly impeding Pozuelo by running into him forcefully, others may consider this to be a fair charge with the ball in playing distance.

On balance, PRO would have preferred the referee to play on in this situation. However, once a direct freekick had been awarded, the VAR was correct to intervene due to the location of the contact, and the referee was then correct to award a penalty kick, as penalizing Navarro was not clearly and obviously incorrect.


LA vs ATX: Review for goal (handball) – not given


What Happened: A goal was scored by Chicharito (LA) and awarded by the on-field match officials. On checking footage of the goal, the VAR saw that the ball had clearly made contact with the left hand of Chicharito immediately before he scored, and as such, he recommended a Video Review for the goal to be disallowed for a handball offense.

The referee looked at the footage at the RRA and, having done so, disallowed the goal and awarded a direct freekick to Austin FC for handball.

On-field decision: Goal.
Type of review: No goal – handball.
Final decision after review: Handball.
Length of review: 1:21.

PRO’s Opinion: This was an efficient intervention by the VAR and an excellent use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious on-field error, albeit in a somewhat challenging situation to see in real-time.

Any contact between an attacker’s hand/arm and the ball immediately prior to that player scoring must be penalized, regardless of any other factor normally used when determining handball offenses. Disallowing the goal was the correct outcome.