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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 2: Challenges on goalkeepers

By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer

In Play of the Week 2 we are discussing challenges on goalkeepers. The play in question is from the Real Salt Lake versus Seattle Sounders game, at 85:38.

After the ball is crossed over the Sounders’ penalty area from an RSL free kick, it appears to be going out of play before it is prevented from doing so by Salt Lake’s Juan Manuel Martinez.

The forward hooks the ball into a dangerous area, where team-mate Jamison Olave challenges aerially with Sounders’ goalkeeper Tyler Miller. A tremendous leap by Olave sees him out-jump Miller and head the ball into the goal.


Referee Juan Guzman has to consider whether there was a foul by Olave. Usually when referees make these judgments they tend to be positioned on the front edge of the penalty area without a side on view of the challenge.

If you look at Guzman’s superb reading of the situation and anticipation, as soon as the ball is crossed over, he moves from his edge of the penalty area position to be closer to the drop zone, thus improving his viewing angle.

From this improved position he can clearly see that no foul was committed by the goal scorer, and he correctly allows the goal to stand. Goalkeeper Miller weakly appeals in vain but he realizes and accepts that he wasn’t fouled. No other Sounders player appealed.

It is widely felt that goalkeepers are overprotected and on many occasions we have seen fouls awarded in these situations in favor of the goalkeeper. I would suggest that, if Guzman had remained on the edge of the penalty area, he would have disallowed the goal, assuming that a foul had been committed as goalkeepers having the privilege of using their hands have an advantage and should be favorite in these challenges. It is safer to assume that the forward must have pushed or charged the keeper illegally to enable him to win the ball.

On this occasion the fantastic leap by RSL’s Olave enables him to win the ball and the superb anticipation by referee Guzman sees a fair goal stand.

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