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EducationThe Definitive Angle

The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 12

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

Week 12 overview

There were six Video Reviews during Week 12 – three during the midweek matches and three over the weekend.


SEA vs ORL: Review for handling in the APP leading to a goal – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal – No foul.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Handwalla Bwana (SEA). At the beginning of the APP there was a possible handling offense by Nicolas Lodeiro (SEA).

The Video Review Process:

  • In the lead-up to the goal the referee said that there might be a possible handball.
  • As soon as the goal is scored the VAR started to look at the possible handling offense.
  • There are four good angles to see whether the ball is deliberately handled.
  • The VAR focused on the Endzone and Near right angles which seemed to show the ball hitting the hand.
  • The VAR continued to look at the angles having difficulty telling whether the ball struck the hand before he finally recommended a Video Review using the HH angle at 3:32 into the review.

PRO’s Decision: Without a doubt, this was a long review and frankly, unnecessary. So far this season the average time for a goal to be checked and reviewed is 2:18 (1:55 in 2018) – this took twice that long. Although there is no set time limit for how long the VAR can take to look at footage, there is a point where any infraction would not be seen as “clear” to the referee or public if it has taken so long to make a decision.

This was not a handling offense (even if the ball had touched the arm). The ball came from a short distance and there is no movement of the arm to the ball. The referee correctly allowed the goal as there was not a clear and obvious error in what was not an efficient use of the Video Review system.


VAN vs ATL: Review for violent conduct – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: Just before a throw-in was taken there was contact between Ali Adnan (VAN) and Julian Gressel (ATL). Gressel went to ground, so the VAR checked the footage to see if there was violent conduct. On seeing the arm of Adnan hit Gressel in the midsection, he recommended a Video Review.

PRO’s Decision: The referee was correct to maintain his original decision of play on. Although the arm of Ali Adan does make contact with Gressel it was not done in a violent manner. There was little force, the arm was not thrown, and there was no striking action. This was not violent conduct.


LAFC vs DAL: Review for offside in APP leading to a goal – given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Offside.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Diego Rossi (LAFC), however in the APP leading to the goal the assistant referee had raised his flag for an offside infraction by Adama Diomande (LAFC).

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR had identified two possible offside situations prior to the goal and checked the first one when Carlos Vela (LAFC) passed the ball to Diomande – it is not offside. (This is the offside the AR raised the flag for).
  • The VAR then checked the second possible offside where Diomande passed the ball to Rossi who is behind the ball and therefore onside.
  • At the RRA the referee checked both offside situations and agreed that it was a good goal.

PRO’s Decision: This was a good use of Video Review to correct an offside decision. Unfortunately, the assistant referee failed to remember to delay the flag and raised it, even though the situation was a tight call and there was an excellent opportunity to score developing.

Even though the flag was raised early, this is only really important if the referee then blows the whistle early – the raised flag can be a distraction to the players but they should keep playing to the whistle. Under the VAR protocol, an early whistle blown prior to the ball crossing the line, regardless of its impact or not, negates the option to implement a Video Review.


• Audio from VOR

After the match had concluded, PRO became aware that there was a difference between the timing of the audio in the VOR with the audio that was heard on the broadcast. In the audio that was used by the VAR the whistle can be heard after the ball had clearly crossed the line, in the audio from the broadcast the whistle is heard just before the ball crossed the line. PRO is actively working with MLS’s broadcast partners to investigate why there was this slight difference in the syncing of the audio signal between the official audio in the VOR and what was broadcast live.


HOU vs DC: Review for red card (violent conduct) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Yellow Card – reckless challenge.

What Happened: Paul Arriola (DC) fouled Adam Lundqvist (HOU), bringing him down. As Arriola moved over Lundqvist after committing the foul, he brought his foot down unnecessarily onto the body of Lundqvist. The video footage indicated this was an unnecessary action which had force, and this was missed by the referee, who issued a yellow card for the foul challenge but did not recognize the act of violent conduct that had occurred after the initial tackle.

PRO’s Decision: This was the correct outcome and a very good use of the Video Review system.


ORL vs CIN: Review for penalty kick (holding) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: A corner kick was taken by Orlando City, and as the ball traveled into FC Cincinnati’s penalty area, Lamine Sane (ORL) was pulled backwards to the ground by Kendall Waston (CIN), who was marking him.

The Video Review Process:

  • Although positioned well, the referee was not focused on the contact between Waston and Sane.
  • Using the High EZ camera the VAR in 15 seconds identified the holding and took a second look through the Tight camera, before he recommended a Video Review.
  • After seeing the incident at full speed from the High EZ camera the referee asked for a second angle and on seeing the behind the goal angle he agreed that it was a penalty kick.

PRO’s Decision: Kendall’s holding actions were clear and were worthy of being penalized with the award of a penalty kick. This was the correct outcome and a good use of the Video Review system.


LA vs COL: Review for violent conduct – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: A foul challenge by Diego Polenta (LA) on Sam Nicholson (COL) was penalized by the referee, who also issued a yellow card to Polenta for the reckless nature of the challenge.

Polenta had made contact with the studs of his right foot on the back of the heel of Nicholson and in so doing had brought Nicholson down.

The Video Review Process:

  • Using the Right 18 camera the VAR believed that there was contact on the Achilles and recommended a Video Review.
  • During this time the fourth official alerted the VAR that Tommy Smith (COL) had stated that he was headbutted by Uriel Atuna (LA) during the mass confrontation after the tackle.
  • At the RRA the referee uses the HH camera to determine that the contact is not a stomping action but rather one where Polenta steps on the foot of his opponent.
  • After determining that there was no red card for violent conduct the referee asked to look at the possible headbutt. This took another 30 seconds to find and he determined there was no violent conduct.

PRO’s Decision: The contact from Polenta lacked the force and point of contact required to be consistent with a clear act of violent conduct and the initial award of a yellow card was an appropriate outcome for this action. It certainly was not a clear and obvious error and the Video Review should not have been recommended in this case. The referee correctly retained his initial yellow card decision.



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