Only 6 games in Week 16, so not a lot to discuss in MLS, but we did find a deflection/deliberate play situation in Toronto and we offer some advice on how to work with the referee to get it right. Even with 6 games we did find three nice choices for Call of the Week.
TEAMWORK ON DELIBERATE PLAYS
We keep emphasizing not rushing the flag, even when the VAR delay is not a concern. Taking a couple of steps, a couple of moments to process is well worth it to get the decision correct.
In Toronto v DC United a attempted thru ball to an offside positioned attacker turns into a deflection vs deliberate situation. Even though the AR sees the defender's touch he does not wait long enough for the referee to help him. The referee correctly sees the defender's actions as a deliberate play because the defender takes 2-3 steps towards the ball and has time to make a play. He plays a ball that he sees coming and it is not a reaction to an unexpected ball.
In cases like this, advice is for the AR to ask for help - "position, position, position" and then wait for an answer. If the situation develops into a goal or corner kick and the referee has not given an answer, the AR and referee can sort it out during the stoppage.
Advice is also given to the referees in this situation, as the nature of the play should immediately alert the referee to say "defender, defender, defender".
All of this communication needs to be covered in the pre-game preparations.
ANSWER - WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? - IS THIS OFFSIDE?
Both of these situations are deliberate plays, in fact, quite obvious deliberate plays and those that see offside should study these plays carefully. They both are similar as they share several considerations.
Portland v Sporting KC -
- Defender is at a distance from the ball (10 yards)
- Defender takes 2 steps toward the ball
- Pace of the ball is slow
NY Red Bulls 2 v FC Cincinnati
- Defender is at a distance from the ball (20 yards)
- Defender takes 4-5 steps towards the ball
- Pace of the ball is very slow
The importance of distance from the ball is that the defender has time to make a decision, which also can relate to the pace of the ball. However the most telling sign of a deliberate play is the movement of the feet of the defender. In Portland the defender adjust his feet and takes two steps before he plays the ball. In NYRB2 the defender takes several steps before playing the ball.
Some may suggest that the defenders are off-balance when they play the ball as they both stretch to reach for the ball, and for that reason it is a deflection. They are off balance but in control of their bodies as they had time to choose to play the ball that way.
Both defenders make poor decisions to play the ball when they can't quite reach it and making poor decisions (and a poor play) is not a consideration for offside.
WINNER - CALL OF THE WEEK #15 - Kyle Atkins
CALL OF THE WEEK #16
Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho is up against a double whammy of Morgante sauce. Three good choices out of the 6 games in Week #16 all from Canada. Which one was the best?