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FeaturedThe Definitive Angle

The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 8

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

Week 8 overview
There were six Video Reviews during Week 8.


SJ vs SEA: Review for red card (serious foul play) – not given


What happened: A penalty kick was awarded to Seattle Sounders when Raúl Ruidíaz (SEA) was fouled by defender Nathan (SJ) in the San Jose Earthquakes penalty area. The challenge occurred when Ruidíaz cut the ball back as Nathan lunged in, making heavy contact on the Seattle Sounders’ player.

The referee issued a yellow card to Nathan, deeming the challenge to be reckless. The VAR checked the situation and concurred with the referee that the challenge was worthy of a penalty kick award. However, the VAR also checked the nature of the foul challenge to establish whether the non-issuing of a red card for serious foul play was a clear and obvious error.

The VAR saw that Nathan had entered the challenge with speed, lunging in with an extended right leg, which went higher than the ball and was straight when it made contact with the inside of Ruidíaz’s knee. Although the contact was glancing, the nature of the challenge meant it had excessive force and endangered the safety of Ruidíaz, so a Video review was recommended.

After looking at the footage at the RRA, the referee retained his yellow card decision, primarily because the contact was glancing.

On-field decision: Penalty kick and yellow card (reckless challenge)
Type of review: Red card (serious foul play).
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 3:30.

PRO’s Opinion: The recommendation for review was correct, and it should have resulted in the referee changing his yellow card decision to red.


SJ vs SEA: Review for penalty kick (foul challenge) – not given


What happened: In the 90th minute of the game, with the score at 3-3, a San Jose Earthquakes corner kick was cleared by Nouhou Tolo (SEA). Francisco Calvo (SJ) appealed to the referee that he had been pushed by Tolo prior to the Sounders defender heading the ball; however, the referee had not identified an offense in real-time.

The VAR checked the footage and saw that Tolo had placed both hands into the back of Calvo and had pushed him forward, causing Calvo to collide into another Seattle Sounders defender while Tolo was able to head the ball unchallenged. As such, the VAR recommended a Video Review for the possible awarding of a penalty kick.

Having reviewed the footage at the RRA, the referee concurred with the VAR and awarded a penalty to San Jose Earthquakes, which was converted to give them a 4-3 lead, which is how the game finished moments later.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:15.

PRO’s Opinion: The pushing foul is clear. This was a good use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error at a crucial moment in the game.


MIA vs ATL: Review for penalty kick (foul challenge) – not given


What happened: Atlanta United appealed for a penalty kick when Brooks Lennon (ATL) went down in the Inter Miami penalty area under a challenge from Noah Allen (MIA). The referee waved away the penalty appeal and play continued. The VAR checked the footage and saw that Lennon had moved past Allen while in possession of the ball, touching it forward with his right foot as Allen stretched in with his left.

Allen failed to make any contact on the ball but made contact on the right shin of Brooks, then moved down to his foot. Lennon then went down under this challenge. The VAR deemed this to be a foul by Allen and the non-awarding of a penalty kick to be a clear and obvious error. As such, he recommended a Video Review.

The referee looked at the footage at the RRA but decided to retain his initial no-penalty decision, feeling that Lennon had gone to ground easily under minimal contact.

On-field decision: Goal kick.
Type of review: Penalty kick.
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 2:00.

PRO’s Opinion: Allen failed to make any contact on the ball and instead made contact on Lennon, to the extent whereby it is reasonable to consider that Lennon was unfairly impeded by the contact. A penalty kick should have been awarded.


NYC vs TOR: Review for goal (offside) – not given


What happened: A goal scored by Valentín Castellanos (NYC) was awarded by the on-field match officials.

Even though on-field officials had identified that Alfredo Morales (NYC) was in an offside position, they did not feel he was interfering with an opponent as he was to the left of the goalkeeper and not in his line of sight, nor did they believe in real-time that he had interfered with play as they had not seen that the ball had actually gone in off his head, hence why they had awarded the goal. The VAR saw that the ball struck Morales on its way into goal and, therefore, he had interfered with play. The VAR recommended a Video Review for the goal to be disallowed for offside. Having looked at the footage himself at the RRA, the referee disallowed the goal and awarded an indirect freekick to Toronto FC for offside.

On-field decision: Goal.
Type of review: No goal – offside.
Final decision after review: No goal – indirect freekick.
Length of review: 1:56.

PRO’s Opinion: This was an efficient and effective use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error, albeit somewhat challenging to see in real-time for the on-field match officials. The fact the assistant referee had made an on-field judgment that Morales was in an offside position was important in this case. Even though the footage shows that the situation was close, there was no evidence that the on-field judgment of offside position was clearly wrong, and therefore as soon as the VAR saw the ball had hit Morales, combined with the on-field decision of offside position, he was correct to recommend a Video Review.


ORL vs RBNY: Review for penalty kick (handball) – not given


What happened: In the latter stages of the game, with the score at 2-0 to New York Red Bulls, a Red Bulls freekick was floated into the Orlando City penalty area, where it was met by the head of Sean Nealis (RBNY), who headed it back across the penalty area. However, it was blocked within a short distance by the left arm of defender Rodrigo Schlegel (ORL).

New York Red Bulls appealed for a penalty kick, but the referee deemed the arm movement and position natural, and awarded a corner kick instead. The VAR saw that Schlegel’s arm, which had blocked the path of the ball, was well extended away from his body and that it had moved out into that position after he had jumped when initially trying to head the ball. The VAR deemed the arm to be in a position which had made Schlegel unnaturally bigger and therefore, this was a handball offense. As such, he recommended a Video Review.

After looking at the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee concurred and awarded a penalty kick to New York Red Bulls.

On-field decision: Corner kick.
Type of review: Penalty kick.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:07.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good use of Video Review to rectify a clear and obvious error.


ATX vs VAN: Review for red card (serious foul play) – not given


What happened: The referee issued a yellow card to Lucas Cavallini (VAN) for a reckless action when he made contact with his right arm to the face of Daniel Pereira (ATX). Cavallini was moving forward through the middle of the field with the ball at his feet, being pursued by Pereira, when he moved his arm towards Pereira and made contact. The referee deemed the action by Cavallini to be a playing action designed to hold the Austin FC player off but done in a reckless manner without regard to the safety of the opponent.

The referee felt the action fell short of having excessive force or brutality, hence his decision to show yellow. The VAR formed the opinion that a red card for violent conduct was the more appropriate outcome, as Cavallini had swung his arm with force, using a part of the arm close to the elbow to make contact. He, therefore, recommended a Video Review, and the referee looked at the footage at the RRA.

Having done so, the referee decided to retain his yellow card decision, maintaining his view that the actions of Cavallini were reckless rather than brutal or involving excessive force.

On-field decision: Yellow card (reckless challenge)
Type of review: Red card (serious foul play).
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 2:15.

PRO’s Opinion: This is a borderline situation, whereby there are a mix of considerations which can be used to support both yellow and red card outcomes. Cavallini had possession of the ball and was protecting his space by extending his arms out, so such an action is understandable, albeit Cavallini used more force than was required. This was a subjective call, and it was the correct outcome to maintain the decision on the field.



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