MLS Week #23 August 4-5

The week after the All-Star game is the time teams take a serious look at their position in the standings.  Some realize that they must get points in every game if they are to make it to the playoffs and so the intensity rises.  No surprise then that Week 23 had three mass confrontations.  Time to review best practices when 3 or more players get together in an aggressive manner.  
We also show a perfect VAR delay flag, well almost perfect.  And a trifecta of perfect decisions for Call of the Week. 


Recognize the flash point of when a mass confrontation can get started.  In the confrontations in Houston and Orlando, both started with a completely unnecessary reckless challenge that quickly escalated.  In Atlanta the final whistle ends with two players exchanging words and then the fun starts.   Since one of the players is the "star" it will attract all the players, both aggressors and peacemakers, like bears to honey.  
In  this incident, could the AR or referee stepped in to diffuse the flashpoint? Possibly, but it escalates quickly.  Does the action of AR 1 who appears to bump/gets pushed into a player while trying to separate, raise the temperature of the incident?  Finally, does the referee crew take up appropriate positions to observe the players?
Advice here would be that once the mass confrontation has several players involved, to surround the situation with the fourth official and AR 1 taking up positions on the bench side of the confrontation with the referee and AR 2 staying on opposite sides.  Do not get surrounded by the players and keep moving to observe. AR 1, in hindsight it would have been better off not trying to separate the two players.  There are usually enough peace makers on both teams that the situation will calm itself.  The referee does well to show the red card in hopes of calming players down, but to no avail.  Since this is after the final whistle, the referee crew (with the VAR) has plenty of time to decide if there needs to be any additional misconduct after the confrontation dissipates. 

Mass Confrontation Advice:

  • Recognize the flash point
  • Act quickly
  • Defuse it before it starts or escalates
  • Attempt to separate players (when only 2 involved) or channel them to neutral areas
  • Do not be the one that raises the temperature of the situation as a result of your actions/approach
  • Once mass confrontation (3 or more players):
    • Step back
    • Form “triangle of control”
    • Identify / Observe players
  • Once issue settles Isolate players - Channel players to neutral areas
  • Referee team meet
    • Administer any obvious red cards
    • Issue formal sanctions (misconduct) to any other player(s)
  • Get the game restarted as soon as possible


Volume Up

Week after week we have been pointing out the need for the VAR delay because it is a new concept and something that needs your concentration to put in the practice.  PRO AR Joe Fletcher probably has had the most training on it coming from the World Cup and in Minnesota v Seattle he put it on display by not only delaying the flag until the shot was taken, but also voicing "Offside, delay, delay".  Excellent work on his part.....but...because the referees are so easily triggered to the whistle,  we would prefer "Delay, Delay, Offside".  So, almost perfect. 


Who knew?  Fans of PRO Assistant Referees in Greece read this page.  One of them has asked if we would give our opinion on this contentious goal near the end of a tied match.  What Would You Do?

What Would You Do? - aOK v AEK
Offside - Interfering with an Opponent
Offside - Interfering with Play
No Offside



week 22.jpg


Why we like these three candidates for Call of the Week #23:
Orlando v New England - A free kick with a whole line of players and a clearly offside attacker nearest the assistant referee.  Andrew Bigelow patiently waits to see who plays the ball and its a different attacker he probably cannot see.  Best to keep the flag down then. 
Montreal v DC United - Last Week's winner is back again.  We like this one because it comes unexpectedly to an attacker from a deflection (actually, deliberate save) and ARs need to concentrate on where that player was on the original shot.
Atlanta v Toronto - We like this one because the AR keeps the flag down on a very tight offside...and he has nice hair. 




Who had Call of the Week #23?
Andrew Bigelow - Orlando v New England
Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho - Montreal v DC United
Kyle Atkins - Atlanta v Toronto