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EducationThe Definitive Angle

The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 18

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

Week 18 overview

There were nine Video Reviews during Week 18 – six of the reviews happened during the mid-week games with three over the weekend. Two of the reviews were initiated by the referee for player management reasons.


RSL vs CLB: Review for a penalty kick – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: JJ Williams (CLB) was put through on goal where he was challenged on the ground by goalkeeper Nick Rimando (RSL). Williams took a touch around Rimando and went to ground. The referee saw no contact by Rimando on Williams or the ball and decided that the proper restart was a goal kick. The VAR believed that Rimando had made contact with his left arm on Williams’ foot and recommended a review. After looking at the footage, the referee retained his original decision.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR saw that Rimando had not touched the ball on his initial look.
  • There was a close offside decision leading up to the play; they check it and note that Williams was onside.
  • At 1:10, the VAR recommended a review.
  • The referee saw the images from the Tight camera angle and noted that Williams had stepped on Rimando’s right arm and that any contact from the left arm was minimal.

PRO’s Decision: Williams touch was somewhat heavy as he tried to round Rimando. He stepped on Rimando’s right hand with his left foot, while his back leg appeared to be dragged and was not grounded after passing the goalkeeper, even though there appeared to be an opportunity to do so. Any contact by Rimando’s other arm was minimal and would not cause him to fall in such a fashion.

This was an unnecessary review as the non-award of a penalty kick was not a clear and obvious error.


CHI vs ATL: Review for penalty kick and DOGSO – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Corner kick.

What Happened: Aleksandar Katai (CHI) headed directly towards the goal and appeared to be about to shoot when he cut the ball back as Leandro González Pirez (ATL) was sliding past in an attempt to block the shot. As he did so, his outstretched arm made contact with the ball. The referee did not see the ball hit the hand and gave a corner kick.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR had a handball offense within 20 seconds but needed to make sure that the APP was clean.
  • The APP was checked for any possible offside, and then the VAR recommended a review for a penalty.
  • The referee was shown the Tight camera angle and agreed that it is a handling offense.
  • After the decision to give the penalty kick, the VAR and referee agreed that it is also was a DOGSO incident because there were no other defenders near the play.

PRO’s Decision: The handling was clear because González Pirez’s hand was outstretched and away from his body as a barrier. This was a good use of Video Review, although best practice would have the referee show the red card at the same time as he awarded the penalty kick.


NYC vs SEA: Review for a penalty kick and DOGSO – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: Maximiliano Moralez (NYC) received a through pass inside the penalty area, and as he controlled the ball Joevin Jones (SEA) put his hand on his shoulder. On feeling the contact, Moralez went to ground and appealed for a penalty kick.

The referee initially allowed play to continue as he felt that any contact was minimal. The VAR recommended a review for a penalty and a red card for DOGSO as he felt that the contact was worthy of a penalty kick.

The Video Review Process:

  • After checking that there was no offside on the original pass using the Right 18 camera, the VAR reviewed the High Right EZ angle.
  • He recommended a review one minute into the check.
  • The referee is shown the angle from the High Right EZ angle and then asked for a different angle.
  • On seeing the HH angle twice in regular speed, the referee saw minimal contact and not enough to cause Moralez to go down.

PRO’s Decision: Some may argue that Jones’ action of putting his hand on the shoulder of Moralez, is meant to hold, slow down or unbalance his opponent and should, therefore, be punished with a penalty kick (and a red card for DOGSO). However, in this case, the contact is slight and it is subjective how much impact it had on the player.

Due to the uncertainty of this incident and that there are valid arguments for and against a penalty kick, PRO felt that the non-awarding of a penalty kick was an unnecessary review because it was not a clear and obvious error.


ORL vs PHI: Review for (DOGSO) red card – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Yellow card for stopping a promising attack.

What Happened: Fabrice-Jean Picault (PHI) and Robin Jansson (ORL) challenged for a ball. Picault gained position on Jansson and was about to take control of the ball and head directly towards the goal, as he did so Jansson made a lunging tackle from behind and brought down Picault. The referee and near side AR believed that there was a defender in the center of the pitch that would have been able to defend and only issued a caution for stopping a promising attack.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR immediately checked the play for Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity because they were in no doubt about the foul contact.
  • Using the wide-angle Game camera he can see that the centrally placed defender will not be able to gain enough ground to defend against Picault and recommended a review.
  • The referee was shown the foul and the wide-angle and agreed that it was a DOGSO offense.

PRO’s Decision: The referee correctly changed his decision and gave a red card for DOGSO. Picault had direction, distance, likelihood of controlling the ball, and there were no defenders with the possibility of defending when the foul occurred. This was a good use of Video Review.


CLB vs SEA: Review for a mass confrontation


Starting Point – On-field Decision: No decision due to multiple incidents in a mass confrontation.

What Happened: After the awarding of a goal kick, Nicolás Lodeiro (SEA) aggressively confronted Artur (CLB). Lodeiro was angered by the fact that Artur had continued to play a few moments earlier when Seattle Sounders had anticipated that the ball would be put out of play due to a player injury. Lodeiro’s actions created a mass confrontation involving several players from both teams and it took some time to restore order.

Once things had calmed down, the referee initiated a Video Review in order to look at the footage and ensure there were no serious missed incidents involving red card offenses. On looking at the footage, the referee did not identify any red card offenses, but as a result of the review, he issued two yellow cards for unsporting behavior and lack of respect for the game to Lodeiro and Harrison Afful (CLB).

PRO’s Decision: The practice of the referee initiating the review is recommended when a large confrontation has occurred and it is challenging in real-time for the referee to establish the part which each individual played in the fracas. By initiating a Video Review, the process of going through the footage is made more efficient, rather than waiting for the VAR to conduct a lengthy check and then potentially recommend a review, which in turn would then require the referee to look through the footage again.
This was an appropriate use of Video Review during a mass confrontation to come to a correct outcome.


DAL vs DC: Review for (Serious Foul Play) red card – given (33rd min)


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Red card.

What Happened: Michael Barrios (DAL) won the ball in a duel with Wayne Rooney (DC) and began to pull away when Rooney made a lunging tackle and tripped Barrios. The referee called a foul and showed Rooney a red card for serious foul play because he believed that the contact had been to the back of the leg with the studs. The VAR looked at the footage and recommended a review for no red card because he felt it was a reckless tackle.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR took an initial look at the footage and believed it was a reckless challenge, while doing so the referee showed the red card.
  • The assistant referee stated that he saw contact on the calf with the studs.
  • The VAR first confirmed that a red card was shown and then took another look at the foul tackle.
  • On seeing that the contact was made with the top of the boot and not the studs, and also that the contact is not on the calf, he recommended a review. VARs are advised that if the referee does not describe the tackle in a way that matches the video to lower the line of intervention.
  • The referee looked at two different angles and concurred that it was a reckless challenge.

PRO’s Decision: Rooney’s action was one of attempting to trip his opponent, and in doing so he made contact on the thigh with his boot. Rooney’s lunge brought a higher level of force and it did then endanger the safety of his opponent. Although some may argue that this tackle did not rise to the level of serious foul play due to the point of contact not being on the calf, and that it was the top of the boot and not the studs that were used. However, the original showing of a red card was not a clear and obvious error and the review should not have been recommended.


DAL vs DC: Review for (Serious Foul Play) red card – not given (70th min)


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Foul – no misconduct.

What Happened: Paxton Pomykal (DAL) was fouled by Júnior Moreno (DC). As Pomykal went to ground, the foot of Luciano Acosta (DC) – who was also tracking back with Moreno – made contact with the face of Pomykal.

The referee called a foul by Moreno and did not show any misconduct to Acosta because he felt that his action was accidental in nature. The VAR reviewed the footage and saw that Acosta brought his foot down onto Pomykal’s face and recommended a review.

The Video Review Process:

  • Using the Low Right EZ angle the VAR saw Acosta looked down and then planted his foot on Pomykal’s face.
  • The referee informed the VAR that he believed that it was just incidental contact.
  • The VAR believed that Acosta had room to avoid the contact and recommend a review.
  • After he saw the Low Right EZ angle the referee agreed that the contact was worthy of a red card.

PRO’s Decision: Acosta’s actions used excessive force and endangered the safety of his opponent. While some may argue that Acosta had no place to put down his foot, Pomykal was always in his view, and he could have attempted to reduce the force and avoid the contact.

This was a good use of Video Review to show a red card for violent conduct.


MTL vs MIN: Review for penalty kick – given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Penalty kick.

What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to Minnesota United for a foul challenge by goalkeeper Evan Bush (MTL) on Ethan Finlay (MIN) in the penalty area. Finlay was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he played the ball past Bush, who made no contact on the ball. Bush then turned his body to the right as Finlay continued to move forward. The resulting contact brought Finlay down.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR checked to see if Bush made any contact on the ball – he saw none.
  • Findley’s onside position was confirmed on the original through pass.
  • After 50 seconds the VAR confirmed the referee’s original decision.
  • After the VAR had confirmed the penalty decision and just as the referee was setting up for that kick to be taken, a replay was shown on the stadium video board that created a negative, hostile environment on the field of play. The referee decided to initiate a Video Review himself in this case, in order to manage the emotion on the field of play, he believed that reviewing the situation himself would increase final acceptance of the decision, and on doing so, he confirmed his decision.

PRO’s Decision: The referee correctly maintained his original decision. This was a tough call because Finlay’s movement, together with the position, movement and body position of Bush, caused the two players to collide. There is no doubt that Bush impeded Finlay and made no contact with the ball so on balance, a penalty kick is the most credible outcome in this case.

The review itself was unnecessary as it was not a clear and obvious error, however, the referee’s decision to take a look due to the negative reaction of the player is supported.


ATL vs RBNY: Review for red card (violent conduct) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: This was a missed incident.

What Happened: Immediately before the final whistle was blown, Jeff Larentowicz (ATL) and Cristian Cásseres Jr (RBNY) clashed off the ball. Cásseres Jr pushed Larentowicz a number of times before Larentowicz reacted by intentionally treading on the foot of Cásseres Jr and then he pushed him to the ground. The referee did not see this in real-time and blew the whistle for full time.

The VAR checked the footage and determined that Larentowicz’s actions constituted violent conduct and therefore recommended a Video Review.

The referee viewed the footage of the incident at the RRA and concurred with the VAR in that Larentowicz’s actions were worthy of a red card.

PRO’s Decision: Larentowicz’s actions to stomp down on the foot of his opponent looked intentional and as such, it is understandable why a judgment would be reached that his actions were violent. This was an appropriate use of Video Review to help the referee with an incident behind his back.



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