MLS Week #15 June 9

June brought us a pair of interesting offside decisions in MLS.  Should a goal in Vancouver counted with a defender off the field of play?  Did LAFC benefit from a deflection or a deliberate save?  Two deliberate plays? or maybe not. 


In 2017 FIFA added some clarification as to when a defender off the field of play is no longer counted as one of the two defenders needed for an offside infraction.
"A defending player who leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission shall be considered to be on the goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play or until the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside their penalty area. If the player left the field of play deliberately, the player must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play."
This phrase was added to deal with injured defenders who could not return to the field and to give guidance to the assistant on when to no longer include that defender in their offside considerations. The spirit of the phrase was that a new attack would be needed before that defender was no longer counted and until then they would be considered to be on the goal line.  
In Vancouver a goal line tackle leaves a defender off the field of play when a goal is scored.  Previously to that, the defense has played a ball towards the halfway line and it did barely go outside the area.  At the moment of the pass to the attacker that scored, the defender had still not returned to the field.  Should the attacker have been called offside?
No.  The assistant referee does well to stay with the goalkeeper as the second to last opponent with the other defender technically on the goal line.   The ‘clearance’, while leaving the penalty area, doesn’t create a new phase of play.  The intention of the Law was that the attacking move has clearly ended when the defending team has sufficient control of the ball to clear it from their penalty area, and at this point any consideration of the defender off the field 'playing the attacker onside' ends.

In the spirit and intention of the Law, this incident does not represent the defending team having sufficient control of the ball for it to be considered that when the ball reaches the edge of the penalty area that the attacking move has ended.
More information about how to deal with defenders off the field of play can be found here. 


Video Review was used to decide this penalty kick in Vancouver.  There is no doubt that it is a penalty.  However, just as the referee is about to make the decision to give the penalty the assistant referee correctly reminds the VAR to check for a possible offside situation prior to the penalty.   As you can see on the clip, the VAR quickly goes back and confirms that there was no offside offense and then the referee gives the penalty decision.  This is good teamwork. 


This goal by LAFC almost had a element of offside in it, however on close inspection the attacker was never in an offside position.  If he had been, would he be judged offside?  Although the announcer calls this a deflection, it would be better categorized as a deliberate save. 

"Gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:

  • rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar, match official or an opponent
  • been deliberately saved by any opponent

"Deliberate save" obviously covers the actions of the goalkeeper but it also includes defenders.  A ‘save’ is when a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper within the penalty area).

If LAFC #3 was in an offside position at the moment of the shot, then he should be flagged for offside as he has gained an advantage having played the ball off a deliberate save.


This is offside and the flag should be raised.  The attacker challenges for the ball, and it does not matter that he first moves to an onside position to do it. The defender has not made a deliberate play to create a new phase of play.  In most cases the AR should wait and see before raising the flag because their are some non-offside scenarios that could play out first.  Such as the defender just clears the ball before the attacker decides to challenge or the ball goes out of play,   The flag should be raised the moment the attacker has stolen the ball as he has interfered and gained an advantage in the end. 

What should you do? - Dallas v Vancouver
No Offside - No Flag
Offside - Raise flag right away
Offside - Raise flag if he interferes
Please Specify:


We are putting two possible deliberate plays out to the masses for opinions.  Is it offside or not? 

What should you do? - POR v SKC
No Offside - Defender makes a deliberate play
Offside - Defender deflects the ball
What should you do? - NYRB2 v CIN
No Offside - Defender makes a deliberate play
Offside - Defender deflects the ball


week 14 ar.jpg


The Call of the Week #15 has three choices.  #1 is Kyle Atkins who correctly sees the defender step up a fraction of a second too late LAG v RSL.  #2 is CJ Morgante who has a similar midfield decision in NYFC v ATL.  #3 is the offside decision prior to the VAR penalty kick where Brian Poeschel correctly keeps his flag down.  Pick your favorite. 




Who had Call of the Week #15?
Kyle Atkins - LA Galaxy v Real Salt Lake
CJ Morgante - NY Football Club v Atlanta
Brian Poeschel - Vancouver v Orlando