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FeaturedThe 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 eight Video Reviews during Week 18.


CLB vs PHI: Review for goal (offside) – not given


What Happened: A goal was scored by Lucas Zelarayán (CLB) and awarded by the on-field match officials.

The VAR checked footage of the goal in order to establish whether there were any clear and obvious reasons why the goal should not be allowed to stand. On doing so, he could see that when Zelarayán struck the ball towards goal, teammate Erik Hurtado (CLB) was in an offside position, within the Philadelphia Union goal area, just ahead of, and in close proximity to, goalkeeper Andre Blake (PHI).

On checking further, the VAR saw that Hurtado was positioned between the ball and the goalkeeper at the moment of the shot, and Hurtado was in the goalkeeper’s line of sight on the shot. Furthermore, the goalkeeper also appeared to hesitate slightly as the shot came in. Hurtado’s offside position had an impact on the goalkeeper.

The VAR concluded that an offense of offside interfering with an opponent had been committed, and he recommended a Video Review. On looking at the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee concurred, disallowed the goal, and restarted the game with an indirect freekick to Philadelphia Union for offside.

On-field decision: Goal.
Type of review: No goal – offside.
Final decision after review: No goal.
Length of review: 2:00.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good and efficient use of the Video review system to rectify a clear and obvious error in a type of situation which is not always easy for the on-field match officials to identify accurately in real-time.


MIN vs RSL: Review for red card (violent conduct) – not given


What Happened: Erik Holt (RSL) and Emanuel Reynoso (MIN) were waiting for a dropping ball from a long kick by the goalkeeper, with Holt behind Reynoso. Just before the ball dropped, Holt made contact from behind into Reynoso, causing the Minnesota United player to go down. The referee deemed there to be careless foul contact but allowed play to continue through application of advantage because Minnesota United had retained possession of the ball after it had bounced off Holt.

While that happened, the VAR checked footage of the incident and saw that Holt had used his right forearm and elbow to strike Reynoso violently in the back of the head. As such, the VAR recommended a Video Review for a possible red card to be issued to Holt for violent conduct.

The referee viewed the images for himself at the RRA but retained his initial no red card decision, deeming that Holt’s actions were careless. As such, he did not issue Holt with a card and restarted with a drop ball where the game had stopped.

On-field decision: Foul – Advantage applied.
Type of review: Red card (violent conduct).
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 2:45.

PRO’s Opinion: Holt’s actions were violent and unnecessary and not a genuine part of any challenge for the ball. The movement of the arm had excessive force and endangered Reynoso’s safety through a blow to the back of the head. A red card should have been the outcome.


HOU vs CLT: Review for goal (offside) – given


What Happened: A goal was scored by Fabrice Picault (HOU) but was disallowed by the on-field officials for offside after a delayed flag and whistle. On checking the footage, the VAR, after consultation with the AVAR, formed the opinion that Picault was level with the second rearmost defender Christian Fuchs (CLT) when the ball was played through to him by teammate Darwin Quintero (HOU) before going on to score. As such, a Video Review was recommended, and after looking at the images for himself at the RRA, the referee concurred and awarded a goal to Houston Dynamo.

On-field decision: No goal – offside.
Type of review: Goal.
Final decision after review: Goal.
Length of review: 1:43

PRO’s Opinion: When the ball was played through to him, Picault was leaning forward while Fuchs was upright. It is clearly a very close situation, and while PRO would prefer for the flag to stay down when there is doubt, once the assistant referee (who was very well positioned) has decided to intervene with an offside flag, the on-field decision should only ever be reviewed in circumstances where there is clear and conclusive evidence that the decision was clearly and obviously incorrect. There is no such conclusive evidence in this case, and the review should not have been recommended.


SKC vs RBNY: Review for red card (DOGSO) – not given


What Happened: The referee issued a yellow card to Sean Nealis (RBNY) for stopping a promising attack when he handled the ball just outside the New York Red Bulls penalty area, taking it away from Cam Duke (SKC), who was nearby.

The VAR checked footage of the incident to establish whether the non-issuing of a red card for DOGSO was a clear and obvious error, and he formed the opinion that such an error had been committed. There were no other defenders close enough to have prevented Duke from moving into the penalty area with the ball with an obvious opportunity to score. As such, the VAR recommended a Video Review, and after looking at the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee concurred and changed the yellow card issued to Nealis to red.

On-field decision: Yellow card (SPA).
Type of review: Red card (DOGSO).
Final decision after review: Red card.
Length of review: 4:25.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error. However, the process took too long because the referee wanted to be sure that the nearest New York Red Bulls defender would not be able to provide cover. The amount of time the review took impacted the credibility of the final decision, even though it was totally correct.


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


What Happened: Rafael Czichos (CHI) and Judson (SJ) came into contact in the San Jose Earthquakes penalty area, resulting in Czichos going down. The referee did not identify an offense in real-time and allowed play to continue. The VAR checked the footage of the incident to establish whether the non-award of a penalty kick was a clear and obvious error.

On doing so, the VAR formed the opinion that Judson had committed an offense by coming into Czichos from behind and making contact with his right lower leg into the back of the left lower leg of Czichos as the Chicago Fire player was preparing to strike the ball. He, therefore, recommended a Video Review, and the referee looked at the footage at the RRA.

The referee did not see enough evidence of a clear foul, feeling that contact between the two players had happened as Czichos started to move his foot back towards Judson as Judson moved in. He also deemed contact to be somewhat minimal and kept his decision not to award a penalty kick.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick.
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 3:00.

PRO’s Opinion: There is contact between the two players but how that contact occurs and what impact it has, is open to interpretation. Once the referee has made an on-field decision to play on, the VAR should not have intervened due to the subjective nature of this situation.


ORL vs DC: Review for penalty kick (handball) – given


What Happened: A penalty kick was awarded to Orlando City when the right hand of Brendan Hines-Ike (DC) made contact with the ball within the D.C. United penalty area, having been headed towards him by Benji Michel (ORL) from close distance. The VAR checked footage of the penalty kick award in order to establish whether the decision involved a clear and obvious error.

On doing so, he formed the opinion that the actions of Hines-Ike were totally natural and fully justified, in that the ball had made contact with the hand as part of Hines-Ike’s normal running motion. As such, he deemed that no handball offense had occurred and recommended a Video Review for the possible rescinding of the penalty kick decision.

However, when the referee looked at the images for himself at the RRA, he retained his penalty kick decision, maintaining his view that Hines-Ike had deliberately moved his arm up into the path of the ball, thereby preventing Michel from moving on to it to continue his path towards goal.

On-field decision: Penalty kick – handball.
Type of review: No penalty.
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 1:38.

PRO’s Opinion: On balance, PRO would prefer no penalty kick in this situation, as the actions of Hines-Ike look somewhat natural. However, handball judgments are the most subjective of all, and an argument can be made that the arm was moved into the path of the ball. As such, PRO feels it would have been preferential for the VAR not to intervene once the referee had awarded the penalty kick.


COL vs ATX: Review for goal (handball in APP) – not given


What Happened: A goal was scored by Maxi Urruti (ATX) and awarded by the on-field match officials. The VAR checked the footage of the goal and formed the opinion that Urruti’s teammate Sebastián Driussi (ATX) had used his right bicep to block the ball in the APP as Jonathan Lewis (COL) was attempting to clear it prior to Driussi then having a shot blocked which ultimately fell to Urruti to score. As such, the VAR recommended a Video Review, and after looking at the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee concurred and disallowed the goal. He awarded a direct freekick to Colorado Rapids for handball.

On-field decision: Goal.
Type of review: No goal – handball in the APP.
Final decision after review: No goal.
Length of review: 2:55.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good use of the Video Review system to rectify an on-field error when Driussi’s actions weren’t initially penalized by the referee. The footage shows that even though the ball comes to him from a short distance, Driussi locks his right arm to allow the ball to hit his bicep and prevent it from going past him, from which the ball eventually goes to his teammate to score. The offense happened within the APP of the goal.


LA vs MTL: Review for penalty kick (handball) – not given


What Happened: The ball made contact with the left arm of Joel Waterman (MTL) within the CF Montréal penalty area after being headed towards Waterman by Dejan Joveljic (LA). The referee did not identify an offense in real-time and allowed play to continue, but when the VAR checked the footage of the incident, he saw that Waterman’s left arm was extended away from his body, making himself unnaturally bigger and thereby creating a barrier for the ball. The left 18-yard camera showed that Waterman was just inside the penalty area when such contact happened, and as such, a penalty kick should have been awarded.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick – handball.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:21.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good, effective use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious on-field error.



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