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EducationThe Definitive Angle

The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 30

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

Week 30 overview

There were nine Video Reviews during Week 30.


LAFC vs HOU: Review for penalty kick (in or out) – given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Penalty.

What Happened: Lee Nguyen (LAFC) was tripped just as he entered the penalty area by Boniek García (HOU). The referee believed the contact was inside the area and gave a penalty kick.

The Video Review Process:

Using the Low EZ camera, the VAR saw the contact on the leg of Nguyen. Coupling that angle with both the Right 18 and HH Right, which had a very good angle on the penalty area line, he could see that the foul had occurred outside the penalty area and recommended a review.

PRO’s Decision: The contact on Nguyen clearly happened outside the penalty area and a direct free kick was the correct outcome.


POR v NE: Review for penalty kick – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: In time added on at the end of the match, a cross was sent into the Portland penalty area during which Wilfried Zahibo (NE) went to ground. The referee did not see the incident and allowed play to continue.

The Video Review Process:

  • Since play was still ongoing, the VAR checked the footage without stopping the match.
  • 0:20 – The VAR saw the shirt of Zahibo being held by Larrys Mabiala (POR).
  • 0:25 – The VAR asked the referee to stop the game because he was going to recommend a review.
  • 0:30 – The referee stopped the match and was shown the Tight angle in slow motion in the RRA and agreed that it was a penalty.

PRO’s Decision: Zahibo was going to be able to challenge for the ball that was coming in his direction, however, the holding of his shirt impeded him from being able to do so. The holding of the shirt by Mabiala was clear and outstretched, making it a clear foul and the nongiving of a penalty kick for this action was a clear error.


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


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Play on.

What Happened: A pass was put into space in front of Carlos Fierro (SJ) who, while attempting to run onto it, was held and brought down by Kai Wagner (PHI). The referee called a foul and issued a yellow card to Wagner for SPA (Stopping a Promising Attack).

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR looked at the incident under the red card protocol as a possible DOGSO (Denial of Goal Scoring Opportunity) and felt that all the considerations were present, and recommended a Video Review.
  • The referee was shown the wide Game camera at the RRA because the foul itself was not in question but rather if Fierro had been denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
  • The referee felt that there was a doubt as to whether Fierro would be able to gain control of the ball and still be able to go on towards the goal, focusing on the direction, distance and speed of the ball.
  • He decided to retain his original decision.

PRO’s Decision: The Obvious part of DOGSO is there to give balance to Distance, Direction, Defenders and Likelihood of Control, which are the four main considerations for a red card for this incident. Even if all four of these considerations are met, the attacker still has to have an obvious goal scoring opportunity. The pace of the pass and its direction left Fierro with some distance still to cover. Although he probably would have got to the ball first, a central defender was closing down on him as well.

There are mixed considerations for a DOGSO red in this incident and the review should not have been recommended as it was not a clear and obvious error.


SJ vs PHI: Review for offside in APP leading to a goal – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: After several short passes, a goal was scored by Magnus Eriksson (SJ). On checking the APP (Attacking Possession Phase) leading to the goal, the VAR saw that Danny Hoesen (SJ) was in an offside position at the moment Shea Salinas (SJ) passed him the ball.

PRO’s Decision: Hoesen’s back foot was clearly beyond the second to last opponent at the moment the ball was played by a teammate and this was part of the APP of the goal. The review was correct, however, it could have been completed in a more efficient manner.


SJ vs PHI: Review penalty kick – given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Penalty kick.

What Happened: Defender Aurélien Collin (PHI) used some body contact to shield Andrés Ríos (SJ) away from the ball, after which the attacker went to ground. The referee awarded a penalty.

PRO’s Decision: There is subjectivity in this case as to whether the contact by Collin is worthy of being penalized and whether or not Rios went down too easily. However, there was physical contact created by the defender on the attacker to prevent him from moving to the ball, which was not in playing distance. As such, a case can be made that he was unlawfully impeding his opponent with contact, which is punishable by the award of a penalty kick.

In this case, the role of the VAR is to only look at whether there was a clear error, not what might be seen as the “better” or “best” decision. Although ‘no penalty’ was probably the best decision here, the review should not have been recommended as the on-field decision was not a clear and obvious error.


MTL vs ATL: Review offside in APP leading to a goal – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Héctor Villalba (ATL) and awarded by the on-field match officials.

The Video Review Process:

  • 0:10 – The VAR checked the start of the APP and first confirmed that Ezequiel Barco (ATL) was not offside on the pass from Villalba.
  • 0:28 – The kick point was found on Barco’s shot and it was noted that Justin Meram was in an offside position at that point.
  • 0:35 – The VAR confirmed that a goal was given on the field.
  • 0:45 – The review was recommended.
  • 1:15 – The referee was shown the Left 18 camera footage.
  • 1:25 – The referee confirmed that Meram had gained an advantage when he played the ball.

PRO’s Decision: Meram committed an offside offense in the APP leading up to the goal. Meram had been in an offside position when teammate Barco had shot on goal and when the ball rebounded off the crossbar to Meram, he gained an advantage by being in that offside position. This was a good and efficient use of Video Review that took approximately one minute and 30 seconds to complete.


SKC vs POR: Review for red card (violent conduct) – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: A yellow card was originally given to Felipe Gutiérrez (SKC) for SPA and then to Brian Fernández (POR) for lack of respect for the game for his aggressive confrontation with Gutiérrez after being fouled. This led to a mass confrontation.

What Happened: A promising attack by Portland Timbers was stopped by Gutiérrez, who blatantly and cynically fouled Fernández near to the touchline. As the referee was moving in to caution Gutiérrez, a confrontation followed between the two players who went head-to-head. The referee, therefore, showed both a yellow card – to Gutiérrez for the foul which had stopped the promising attack and to Fernández for his lack of respect for the game by confronting Gutiérrez in such an aggressive manner.

However, as this happened, other players moved towards the confrontation, which caused it to escalate. During this time, Fernández reached out and placed his hand on the back of the neck of Gutiérrez, and then attempted to kick Gutiérrez, extending his foot out towards him; moments later he pushed him away in a forceful manner. The referee issued a red card to Fernández.

Somewhat simultaneously, while the referee was attempting to calm the situation, Roger Espinoza (SKC) placed his hand to the throat of Sebastián Blanco (POR) and also pushed him away in a violent manner.

The Video Review Process:

  • During mass confrontations the VAR checks the footage in order to establish if there had been any serious missed incidents worthy of a red card during the confrontation.
  • Once the situation had calmed, the referee communicated the on-field decisions to the VAR, who then checked the red card to Fernández.
  • The VAR saw the actions of Espinoza in grabbing the throat of Blanco in a violent manner and recommended a Video Review.
  • The referee looked at the images in the RRA and issued a red card to Espinoza for violent conduct.

PRO’s Decision: This was the correct outcome. Espinoza’s actions were clearly visible and the grabbing of the throat was violent conduct. The VAR also saw no clear and obvious error in the red card to Fernández.


SJ vs SEA: Review for penalty kick (in or out) – given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Penalty kick and yellow card for DOGSO.

What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to San Jose Earthquakes for a foul challenge by Xavier Arreaga (SEA) on Danny Hoesen (SJ). A yellow card was also shown to Arreaga for the DOGSO. As this was his second yellow card of the game, having also been cautioned for SPA in the 60th minute, Arreaga was issued a red card and sent from the field of play.

The Video Review Process:

  • The VAR recognized that not only did the offense not deny an obvious goalscoring opportunity because the ball was moving well wide of goal, the foul contact happened outside the penalty area.
  • He then recommended a Video Review for no penalty kick because the foul was outside the area.

PRO’s Decision: The referee changed the penalty decision to a direct free kick outside the penalty area but retained the second yellow card for Arreaga. The offense fell short of DOGSO but still stopped a promising attack. If the offense had occurred inside the penalty area, no yellow card would have been necessary for SPA, but because it happened outside, a yellow card was the appropriate individual sanction for Arreaga. The referee correctly retained the yellow card.

This was ultimately the correct outcome all round and good use of Video Review to correct two clear and obvious errors in the same incident.


RSL vs HOU: Review for offside in APP – not given


Starting Point – On-field Decision: Goal.

What Happened: A goal was scored by Tommy McNamara (HOU) and awarded by the on-field match officials.

A Video Review was recommended for offside in the APP leading to a goal.

The Video Review Process:

  • 0:20 – The VAR identified the kick point of Mauro Manotas’ (HOU) shot.
  • 0:45 – The AVAR confirmed the offside position and the VAR recommended the review.

PRO’s Decision: Alberth Elis (HOU) had gained an advantage by being in an offside position when a shot by Manotas had been saved by Nick Rimando (RSL). This was a good and efficient use of Video Review to rectify a clear and obvious error that took approximately one minute and 20 seconds to complete.



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