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The Definitive Angle

The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 21

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

Week 21 overview
There were six Video Reviews during Week 21.

MIN vs SKC: Review for red card (serious foul play) – given

What Happened: A red card was issued to Rémi Walter (SKC) for serious foul play when he committed a high and extremely late challenge on Emanuel Reynoso (MIN), who was breaking away at speed on a Minnesota United counterattack. Well after Reynoso had played the ball forward, the Sporting Kansas City player brought his left leg up with studs exposed and moved it towards Reynoso in order to stop him. At the last moment, Walter pulled the foot back somewhat, but it still made contact high on Reynoso.

The referee deemed this action to involve brutality due to how Walter entered the challenge, with a raised foot directed towards an opponent, well after the ball had gone. There was no opportunity for the ball to be played fairly in this manner by Walter.

On-field decision: Red card (serious foul play).
Type of review: No red card.
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 2:27.

PRO’s Opinion: Walter’s challenge was ill-advised, and when players challenge so late with a raised foot directed towards an opponent there can be little complaint when the referee issues that player a red card. There is some subjectivity as to whether this red card should be recorded as serious foul play or violent conduct because the action appears to be more a deliberate attempt to stop an opponent through whatever means necessary, rather than an attempt to play the ball. The issuing of a red card is certainly not a clear and obvious error, and the VAR should not have recommended a Video Review.

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

What Happened: A ball was played forward by Orlando City, which was latched onto by attacker Tesho Akindele. He was pursued by defender Mauricio Pineda (CHI), who managed to get ahead of Akindele. Both players jostled for position as they chased the ball, and eventually Akindele went to ground. The referee did not identify an offense in real-time and allowed play to continue.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Red card (DOGSO).
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 1:54.

PRO’s Opinion: Any offense by Pineda in this position would also fulfill the requirements of DOGSO, as Akindele was heading towards the goal, just outside the Chicago Fire penalty area, with no other defenders nearby and the ball under control. The hold by Pineda on Akindele’s shirt was impactful and very visual. The hold by Akindele earlier as they jostled for position had no impact and he was no longer holding when the DOGSO foul occurred. There may be some subjectivity in whether Akindele threw himself down. However, there is no doubt that there was a holding offense by Pineda.

COL vs RSL: Review for goal (offside in APP) – not given

What Happened: A goal was scored by Rubio Rubin (RSL) and awarded by the on-field match officials. The VAR identified an offside offense by Justen Glad (RSL) in the attacking possession phase prior to the goal. Glad had played the ball across the penalty area to Rubin, who then scored.

On-field decision: Goal.
Type of review: No goal – offside in APP.
Final decision after review: No goal.
Length of review: 3:18.

PRO’s Opinion: This situation is a close one where Glad looks like he is just ahead of the second rearmost defender, which at first glance appears to be Jack Price (COL) near the middle of the penalty area or Kellyn Acosta (COL) right in front of him.

However, on really close examination, it appears the left foot of defender Acosta may actually be playing Glad onside. This disappointing intervention by the VAR and AVAR goes against our philosophy on when and how VARs should become involved in offside situations.

COL vs RSL: Review for penalty kick (offside in APP) – not given

What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to Real Salt Lake when defender Danny Wilson (COL) pulled Damir Kreilach (RSL) back by the shoulders from behind as both players were moving onto, and challenging for, a ball which had been crossed into the Colorado Rapids penalty area. The holding offense by Wilson was clear; however, the VAR saw that Kreilach had been in an offside position when the ball was crossed to him.

On-field decision: Penalty kick.
Type of review: No penalty – offside in APP.
Final decision after review: No penalty.
Length of review: 2:59.

PRO’s Opinion: The offside infraction happened first. Because the holding offense occurred when the players began to challenge for the ball and not before, it was correct to penalize the attacker for the offside position in this case. If the holding had been much earlier, before the ball was in the vicinity of the players, the holding offense would be penalized rather than the offside. This was a good use of the Video Review system.

ATX vs POR: Review for penalty kick (foul challenge) – not given

What Happened: Austin FC appealed for a penalty kick when Cecilio Domínguez (ATX) went to ground in the Portland Timbers penalty area under challenge from Josecarlos Van Rankin (POR).

The VAR could see that Van Rankin had tripped Domínguez by extending his right leg out towards Domínguez. He failed to touch the ball but made clear contact on Domínguez’s left foot resulting in sufficient contact to bring the Austin FC attacker down.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:58.

PRO’s Opinion: The referee awarded a penalty kick to Austin FC. This was a good, efficient use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error.

VAN vs LAFC: Review for penalty kick (foul challenge) – not given

What Happened: Towards the end of the first half, with the game still goalless, Los Angeles Football Club appealed for a penalty kick when Brian Rodríguez (LAFC) went down just inside the Vancouver Whitecaps penalty area having challenged for the ball with Javain Brown (VAN).

The VAR could see that Brown had made knee-to-knee contact on the right leg of Rodríguez when swinging through with his left leg, and the VAR judged this to be a foul worthy of being penalized.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 3:15.

PRO’s Opinion: There is knee contact from Brown on Rodríguez, but there is more to this play than that, because immediately prior to that contact, Rodríguez brought his right foot down on top of the right foot of Brown, and an argument can be made that this should have resulted in the award of a freekick to Vancouver Whitecaps.

On balance, while the final penalty kick decision can be supported, to maintain a high bar of intervention PRO prefers no intervention by the VAR in this case due to the subjectivity involved in making an assessment as to whether foul contact occurred, and if so by whom.

The referee’s original decision to play on was credible.

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