MLS Week #21 July 18-22

In Week 21 there were two assistant referees involved in penalty kick situations which we will examine closely.  They differ in that in one case the referee decides to not go with the AR's advice and in the other he does. 
An interesting onside decision in a Wednesday game from Week 22 that we ask your opinion on and, of course, the best decisions of the week. 


When the assistant referee gets involved in penalty kick situations there are some common starting points. 

  • Does the referee need my help?
  • Do I have a better view than the referee?
  • Am I sure of my decision?
  • Is my decision credible?

In Minnesota v New England a save off of a free kick creates a 50/50 challenge near the edge of the penalty area nearest AR2.  There is both a tripping foul and upper body foul close to the line.  After the AR communicates "foul, foul, foul"  the referee blows the whistle as the AR raises the flag. At this point the AR also communicates that he has the foul outside the area, no penalty.   The referee initially gives the penalty, but then consults with AR2.  After talking it over with the AR the referee stays with his original decision and the penalty is correctly given. 
In this case the AR should not have gotten involved in the penalty kick phase of this decision.  His view of the foul is credible and participation in that aspect would be expected as the referee could use the help.  However, the referee has a much better angle for the location of the foul while the AR does not, he also is not that far from the incident.  Knowing this, the AR should only offer an opinion if the referee asks for it, but without having a more credible position that the referee, the AR should only assist with the foul. 

  At Red Bull arena a penalty kick is awarded to NYRB for a handling offense by NER defender Antonio Mlinar Delamea. The ball did make contact with Delamea's right arm and then the left, but the arms were tucked-in close to the body and not extended. The arm was not making the body bigger and was in a natural position as Delamea turned away from the shot which was hit at speed from short distance by NYRB's Michael Murillo. The VAR recommended a review and the referee reversed the penalty kick decision and awarded a corner kick to NYRB. 
In this situation AR1 does have a better view of the handling then the referee, so again, involvement would be expected to let the referee know that the ball has hit the hand.  However, ARs, the same as referees, need to analyze whether it meets the considerations for a handling offense. Let's review the considerations that most fit this incident. 

  • Does the hand move towards the ball or does the ball move towards the hand?
  • Is the player’s hand or arm in a “natural position” or an “unnatural position”?
  • Does the player attempt to avoid the ball striking the hand?
  • Does the player use the hand or arm to deliberately touch or block the ball?
  • Does the player prevent an opponent from gaining possession of the ball by handling it?

In this incident the ball is moving fast towards the hands that are tucked in close to the body to avoid the ball and there is no movement of the hand towards the ball.  The one side angle, which is similar to what the AR saw, shows that the ball does strike the left hand knocking it away from the body, which would make it appear as if it was outstretched.  The VAR with the benefit of the replay, can spot that the hand was next to the body when it was stuck and did not move towards the ball.  
What should the AR do?  Advise here is to slow down. First - before saying "hand, hand, hand" analyze what you are seeing.  Is it just a ball that hits the hand or do you have enough of the considerations for a penalty kick?  Since the ball goes immediately out to a corner kick, is there time to communicate with the referee what you saw?  With Video Review in operation as a back-up, do you have a high level of confidence that it is a penalty?  Of course, all of this done in a flash. 

In both of these incidents the involvement of the AR would be expected.  However, as we have noted here, that same involvement needs to be tempered by communicating the information you have that is credible and meets the considerations for a penalty. 


This play is actually from Week 22, but since we will discuss it next week, might as well get a head start.  What should you do?  Is this offside? 

What should you do? - HOU v PHI
Offside - Interfering with an Opponent
Offside - Interfering with Play
No Offside


week 19.jpg


Adam Wienckowski's decision in Minnesota v LAFC has a tight offside position with an attacker  and STLO moving away from goal plus a possible deliberate play.  TJ Zablocki's decision deals with taking the mental picture on a shot as the rebound is pounced upon for a goal by an attacker who appeared to be in offside position....but wasn't.  



Who had Call of the Week #21?
Adam Wienckowski - Minnesota v LA Football Club
TJ Zablocki - Real Salt Lake v Colorado