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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week: MLS Cup Playoffs – Positioning to sell decisions

By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer

Positioning has been a regular theme in this season’s Play of the Week series and we have repeatedly discussed the necessity to be in the optimum position in order to make correct calls.

In the first MLS Cup Playoffs Play of the Week  we are looking at positioning but from the aspect of ‘selling’ the decision.

MLS Cup Playoff assignments: Click here to see who has been assgined to the Conference Semifinal second legs

The play is from the Eastern Conference Semifinal first leg between Montreal Impact and Columbus Crew, from 89:40 to 90:50.


Impact’s Ignacio Piatti plays the ball towards Crew’s Will Trapp. Looking at various angles it is difficult to judge whether Trapp deliberately handles the ball or in fact it hits his chest.

Referee Chris Penso, who is in the absolute optimum position and whose gesture of ‘no handball’ is emphatic, sells this decision not only to the players but to the fans and indeed the commentators, if you listen to their comments.

Everyone believes him due to his position, whereas if he was out of position there would most likely have been the inevitable appeals, protests and an inquest.

Optimum positioning does not happen by accident. It is the product of many refereeing attributes:

– Fitness
– Anticipation
– Reading of the game
– Knowledge of the players
– Awareness

This play illustrates all the benefits of optimum positioning but particularly the aspect of ‘selling’ the call, which leads to general acceptance and zero dissent.

POTW: Click here to read previous Plays of the Week from Paul Rejer

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