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FeaturedThe Definitive Angle

The Definitive Angle: MLS Week 28

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

Week 28 overview
There were five Video Reviews during Week 28.


NE vs CHI: Review for penalty kick (handball) – not given


A shot by Jhon Durán (CHI) was blocked by defender Henry Kessler (NE). The referee did not detect an offense in real-time and allowed play to continue. However, when the VAR saw that the ball had been blocked directly by the outstretched left arm of Kessler, which was away from his body, making him unnaturally bigger and creating a barrier for the ball.

The fact the ball had traveled a short distance was not relevant because Kessler had taken a risk by placing his arm in that position. A Video Review was recommended, after which the referee awarded a penalty kick and cautioned Kessler for stopping a promising attack.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick – handball.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 2:01.

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


NE vs CHI: Review for goal (ball out of play in APP) – not given


What Happened: A goal was scored by Tommy McNamara (NE) and awarded by the on-field match officials. During his check of the goal, the VAR identified that the ball had gone fully out of play for a Chicago Fire throw-in during the APP prior to the goal, but the assistant referee had not identified this, and play had been allowed to continue.

The VAR recommended a Video Review, and after looking at the images for himself at the RRA, the referee agreed that the ball was fully out of play. He disallowed the goal and restarted the game with a throw-in to Chicago Fire.

On-field decision: Goal.
Type of review: No goal – ball out of play in APP.
Final decision after review: No goal.
Length of review: 1:24.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a good use of the Video Review system. Although the camera used to make this determination was not fully in line, the footage provided sufficient evidence that all the ball had crossed all the line, and recommending a review was the only credible outcome.


TOR vs LA: Review for red card (violent conduct) – not given


What Happened: The referee issued a yellow card to Lukas MacNaughton (TOR) for showing a lack of respect for the game when he kicked a ball towards an opponent Víctor Vázquez (LA), after failing to prevent the ball from going out of play for a throw-in to LA Galaxy. The referee deemed MacNaughton’s actions to be reckless, feeling that the player would have known the ball was out of play but chose to continue playing regardless. The ball hit Vázquez to the right side of the stomach and into his right arm, and he went to ground on the impact.

The Toronto FC players complained that MacNaughton would not have known that the ball was out of play and his actions in continuing to play were normal and, therefore, not worthy of a yellow card. However, the referee felt differently, hence the caution. The VAR determined that if MacNaughton’s actions were worthy of a yellow card, he should have been dealt with by way of a red card for violent conduct as his kick of the ball towards Vázquez had excessive force, in his opinion. He recommended a Video Review, but after looking at the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee decided to retain his yellow card decision.

On-field decision: Yellow card – reckless.
Type of review: Red card – violent conduct.
Final decision after review: No change.
Length of review: 3:05.

PRO’s Opinion: It is a matter of opinion whether MacNaughton could reasonably have known the ball was out of play before he kicked it towards Vázquez. The whistle had not blown at that time, but he was some distance behind the touchline. The flag had already been raised to indicate the ball had crossed the touchline, but MacNaughton appeared to be mainly focused on the ball at that time.

For this to be red card worthy and the yellow card decision to be clearly and obviously incorrect, PRO would need to see an action very clearly after the whistle, where there was no doubt the player knew the ball was out of play, and for the ball to be struck with more force at the opponent, especially towards the head.

This was an unnecessary Video Review, as there was no clear and obvious error in the on-field decision.


HOU vs LAFC: Review for penalty kick (handball) – not given


What Happened: A shot by Griffin Dorsey (HOU) was blocked by Ilie Sánchez (LAFC) near to the top of the Los Angeles FC penalty area. The referee did not detect an offense in real-time, believing the ball had struck the right arm, which was tucked into the body, and he allowed play to continue. However, when the VAR checked footage of the situation, he could see that the ball was actually blocked by Sánchez’s left arm, which was extended sufficiently away from his body to make him unnaturally bigger and create a barrier for the ball. The VAR saw that the offense occurred just inside the penalty area and that a penalty kick should have been awarded.

Therefore, a Video Review was recommended, and after seeing the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee concurred and awarded a penalty kick to Houston Dynamo.

On-field decision: Play on.
Type of review: Penalty kick – handball.
Final decision after review: Penalty.
Length of review: 1:30.

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


ORL vs SEA: Review for goal (offside) – given


What Happened: A goal was scored by Kyle Smith (ORL), but it was disallowed by the on-field officials for offside, having deemed in real-time that the ball had deflected into the goal off striker Ercan Kara (ORL), who was in an offside position when Smith struck his shot.

However, when the VAR saw that the ball did not hit Kara but deflected in off defender Jackson Ragen (SEA). Kara did not touch the ball and was not committing an offense despite being in an offside position. This was a good goal, and the VAR recommended a Video Review. After seeing the footage for himself at the RRA, the referee awarded a goal to Orlando City.

On-field decision: Offside.
Type of review: Goal – no offside.
Final decision after review: Goal.
Length of review: 1:50.

PRO’s Opinion: This was a very good use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error in a crucial match-deciding situation.



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