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FeaturedThe Definitive Angle

The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 26

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

Week 26 overview
There were eight Video Reviews during Week 26.


ATL vs RBNY: Review for goal (offside) – given


What Happened: A goal was scored by John Tolkin (RBNY) but was disallowed for offside by the on-field match officials, who deemed striker Patryk Klimala (RBNY) had interfered with the goalkeeper Rocco Ríos Novo (ATL) when jumping to try to head the ball that Tolkin had swung into the Atlanta United penalty area.

While Klimala didn’t manage to head the ball, it was very close to him, and this action caused Ríos Novo to delay his dive, thereby impacting his ability to make a save as the ball went directly into goal from Tolkin’s cross. Had Klimala been in an offside position, this would have been a clear offside offense and a correct reading of the situation by the on-field match officials.

However, when the VAR checked footage of the situation, using a combination of cameras, he saw that Klimala was being held onside by the back foot of Marcelino Moreno (ATL) as the latter stepped out at the moment Tolkin crossed the ball. As such, a Video Review was recommended, and after seeing the images for himself at the RRA, the referee agreed and awarded a goal to New York Red Bulls.

On-field decision: Offside.
Type of review: Goal – no offside.
Final decision after review: Goal.
Length of review: 4:00.

PRO’s Opinion: Although this was a close call, and the VAR had to use a combination of cameras to reach an opinion that he had conclusive evidence, the on-field decision was clearly and obviously incorrect. This was a good Video Review.


NYC vs CLT: Review for goal (boundary) – not given


What Happened: Karol Swiderski (CLT) had his shot blocked by goalkeeper Sean Johnson (NYC) close to the goal line. The on-field match officials deemed that the ball had not fully crossed the goal line and allowed play to continue.

However, the VAR saw that the ball had fully crossed the line before hitting the head of Johnson, who was well behind the line within the goal at the time. Although the camera wasn’t directly in line, the best angle afforded the VAR enough certainty to feel the evidence was conclusive, and as such, he recommended a Video Review.

On seeing the images for himself at the RRA, the referee agreed and awarded a goal to Charlotte.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Goal.
Final decision after review: Goal.
Length of review: 2:10.

PRO’s Opinion: PRO agrees with the VAR in that the evidence was conclusive in this case, and this was a good use of the Video Review system to reach the correct outcome.


NYC vs CLT: Review for penalty kick (foul challenge) – not given


What Happened: McKinze Gaines (CLT) went down in the New York City penalty area under a challenge from Christopher Gloster (NYC). The referee did not identify an offense in real-time and allowed the game to continue, but when the VAR checked the footage of the incident, he saw that after Gaines had touched the ball forward past Gloster, the defender had extended his left leg out across the path of Gaines, making no contact on the ball but bringing Gaines down.

This was a very clear offense, and the VAR correctly recommended a Video Review resulting in a penalty kick being awarded to Charlotte.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:05.

PRO’s Opinion: This was an efficient use of the Video Review system to rectify a very clear and obvious on-field error. There was low speed in the players’ actions, which is likely why the referee misread the situation, but the outcome after review was correct.


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


What Happened: A header by Nick DePuy (LA) was blocked in the Seattle Sounders penalty area by defender Xavier Arreaga (SEA). The referee did not detect an offense in real-time, and play continued. When the VAR checked footage of the incident, he saw that the ball had traveled from DePuy’s head directly onto the left arm of Arreaga, which was extended away from his body and had created a barrier for the ball.

A Video Review was recommended, after which the referee awarded a penalty kick to LA Galaxy. The referee did not caution Arreaga for SPA because the header by DePuy was not on target.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick – handball.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:30.

PRO’s Opinion: Although Arreaga may feel unlucky in this situation because his arms came out as he tried to jump to head the ball, a penalty kick was a credible and expected outcome in this situation. When players jump to head the ball but fail to do so and block it using an arm extended well away from the body, a penalty kick is the correct outcome within the consistent way in which referees are expected to apply the Laws of the Game. This was a good use of the Video Review system at an important moment in the match.


MTL vs NE: Review for penalty kick (foul challenge) – given


What Happened: The referee awarded a penalty kick for what he deemed to be a foul by Omar Gonzalez (NE) on Matko Miljevic (MTL). The VAR saw that the contact between the two players was created when Miljevic dragged his left foot into Gonzalez before then exaggerating the impact of that contact by throwing himself down.

The actions of Miljevic were consistent with an act of simulation; therefore, the VAR recommended a Video Review for the penalty kick to be overturned. However, when the referee reached the RRA, the screen was malfunctioning and not showing the footage clearly. The VAR tried to describe the sequence, but when the referee asked the VAR if there had been contact between the players and he confirmed there had, the referee decided to keep his initial call, feeling he didn’t have enough evidence to overturn it.

On-field decision: Penalty kick.
Type of review: No penalty.
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 3:23.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a disappointing outcome. The fact the screen wasn’t working properly hindered the ability of the VAR to assist the referee in changing the decision. The VAR’s recommendation for review was correct, as Miljevic had committed simulation, and the penalty should have been overturned, and Miljevic cautioned.


DC vs PHI: Review for penalty kick (foul challenge) – not given


What Happened: A Video Review was recommended for a penalty kick to be awarded to Philadelphia Union after Jose Alfaro (DC) had very clearly fouled Mikael Uhre (PHI) in the D.C. United penalty area. Alfaro had swung his right foot at the ball but missed and connected with the right shin of Uhre. The referee had missed the offense in real-time but awarded the penalty after seeing the footage for himself at the RRA.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick – foul challenge.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 1:15.

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


RBNY vs CIN: Review for penalty kick (foul challenge) – not given


What Happened: The referee awarded a freekick to FC Cincinnati within their own penalty area after the deemed Andrés Reyes (RBNY) had fouled Júnior Moreno (CIN) after the two had challenged for a loose ball. After the challenge, both went to ground seemingly injured, and the referee believed, in real-time, Reyes was responsible for foul contact on Moreno.

However, when the VAR checked footage of the incident, he saw that Reyes was the one who had played the ball, reaching it first and poking it away from Moreno, who was swinging to clear the ball. Moreno’s right foot kicked into Reyes rather than the ball, which was the contact that caused both players to go down.

As such, this was not an offense by Reyes but by Moreno in his own penalty area. Therefore, the VAR recommended a Video Review for a penalty to be awarded. Having seen the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee concurred and awarded a penalty kick to New York Red Bulls.

On-field decision: Direct freekick for defending team.
Type of review: Penalty kick – foul challenge.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:30.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a credible use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear on-field error, especially after the referee had wrongly interpreted the nature of the contact and awarded a direct freekick the incorrect way.


SKC vs POR: Review for goal (offside) – given


What Happened: A goal was scored by Sebastián Blanco (POR) but was disallowed by the on-field officials for offside. As the whistle had been blown after the ball had entered the net, the VAR was able to check footage of the goal in order to establish whether a clear and obvious error had been made in disallowing it. On doing so, she could see that Blanco was well onside when the ball was crossed to him in the Sporting Kansas City penalty area by teammate Dairon Asprilla (POR).

This was an incorrect on-field decision, and the VAR correctly recommended a Video Review for the goal to be awarded. After seeing the images for himself at the RRA, the referee awarded the goal.

On-field decision: No goal – offside.
Type of review: Goal.
Final decision after review: Goal.
Length of review: 1:24.

PRO’s Opinion: This was an easy intervention for the VAR to rectify a very clear and obvious on-field error.



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