MLS Week #22 July 25-29

Week 22 we look at a forward's attacking move that may have caught the assistant referee off-guard.  The answer to the possible offside situation in Houston, which frankly is disappointing that so many missed this decision.  Call of the Week features an excellent VAR delay flag versus a possible interfering with the goalkeeper offside. 


We have often mentioned that good assistant referee can read the play and anticipate where their most likely next decision will be.  Their movement and position will be based on the anticipated movement of the defenders and overlapping attackers, etc.  But how about reading the actions of a single attacker?  
In Toronto v Chicago this past weekend, AR2 gets caught out of position and possibly surprised by a ball over the top.  Ultimately he makes the wrong decision flagging the attacker who was onside. (Thanks to Joe Fletcher for spotting this situation)
There are several distracting aspects that the AR must deal with.  First, he has an attacker in the center of the field in offside position.  Could the next pass be going to him? 
Two different defenders are stepping up in anticipation of the pass, which one will be the STLO, the one by the attacker or the one furthest away? 
The ball is being served from the left, which means it will be more difficult to see pass and position. 
The key to this play is in watching the feint of Toronto's Osorio.  This is a coordinated move with his team mate to create space behind the line of defenders.  It actually works quite well in this instance as the defender is sucked forward leaving a lot of open space behind him, plus the pass is on the money. 
The AR needs to read this action as the spot of the most likely next pass, his movement and attention needs to be based on expecting that pass to be made.  It appears his focus is on the central attacker and he does not step up with the defender to maintain his position and is likely not expecting the ball to be played to the near attacker.   So, he really has no clear idea where he was at the moment of the pass.  On the feint, the AR should go on heightened alert, move sharply to be with STLO, and then focus on that attacker's position.  
When an AR sees this type of move, their next thought has to be that the pass will be going to that attacker.  


Two nearly simultaneous offside situations.  One with #11 Bedoya being possibly in an offside position and then interfering with play.  The second is PHI #19 being clearly in an offside position and then interfering with an opponent.   As the ball is played, #11 Bedoya is even with the STLO, some may say that a part of his foot was closer to the goal line, but that is not really clear and no flag would be expected on such a minimal margin. 
However, PHI #19 is clearly in offside position and from that position he impedes the Houston defender's movement.  So whether you believe #11 is offside or not, it becomes irrelevant. This goal should have been disallowed for interfering with an opponent. 

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

Offside -  Interfering with an opponent, is usually a subjective decision that ARs need to make.  However, as we have pointed out before on this page, once there is physical contact between the offside attacker and defender it takes all the subjectivity out of it.   A defender cannot be impeded (clear impact) in his path to the ball or defensive position by an attacker in an offside position.  In this incident you cannot opine whether the defender would be able to get to the ball or not, it is irrelevant, he was blocked by the attacker in attempting to get there.  That the defender actually has to put his hands on him as he goes around him makes it clear and a much easier decision.  You also cannot opine if the attacker deliberately blocked or made a move to block the attacker, it is solely his position and whether it impacts the defender.  The attacker could have stood as still as a statue, but if he is blocking the defender's path he is still interfering. 
Of course, if the defender does not make contact with the attacker, you would then need to make a subjective decision whether the attacker's position clearly impacted the opponent. 
Because this situation has two offside decisions for the AR to make, it is not easy.  First concentration has to be on Bedoya's run and his position and then quickly switched to the second attacker, which by that point it would be hard to spot the interfering.  However, once that decision has been made and the goal scored, the AR should advice the referee (and the VAR) that there was another attacker in offside position that may have interfered. 
That nearly 40% of respondents, with the benefit of slow motion and repeated looks,  do not see this as interfering with opponent is surprising and disappointing.  I highly suggest that you all take this new Deflection v Deliberate 2 quiz which features some interfering with an opponent incidents. 




Kevin Klinger has an attacker in what appears to be an offside position on a diving header.  The attacker moves to get out of the way of the shot, but is close enough to the keeper that interfering with an opponent is clearly there.  However, on closer look a defender at the far post is keeping him onside.  
Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho reacts to a stolen ball and a quick 2v1 breakaway where the ball is poked forward to another attacker who is in a close offside position.  He has offside, but since it was close he delays the flag until the shot is taken.  Good decision and good timing on the flag.  



Who had Call of the Week #22?
Kevin Klinger - Toronto v Chicago
Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho - Sporting KC v Dallas