Week #1 March 3-4

PRO AR Brian Poeschel during Colorado v Portland. Coldest match in MLS history. Would have probably killed the average AR….(photo courtesy gwephoto)

PRO AR Brian Poeschel during Colorado v Portland. Coldest match in MLS history. Would have probably killed the average AR….(photo courtesy gwephoto)

17 degrees for the Colorado v Portland match was the coldest in MLS history and PRO assistants did very well by keeping their concentration for the entire 94 minutes, especially with a close correct onside decision at the 94th minute to close the 3-3 match.
Around the league PRO ARs did well in making offside decisions, assisting on a penalty kick handball in Philadelphia and using VAR delay.
This report we will review some VAR delay decisions that have various results. We will look at a missed offside decision in San Jose and how we can fix it and we will open up the voting for the first AR Call of the Week 2019! Surely an honor to take home the first one of the year for someone.

VAR Delay in Week 1

Week One in MLS saw several matches where assistants correctly utilized the VAR delay on offside decisions….and there were a few where it was either unnecessary or not warranted. We’ll analyze six of these delayed flags so that everyone can get a better idea of how it is to be utilized.

General Criteria for VAR Delay

  1. If the offside is CLEAR AND OBVIOUS - Raise the flag immediately. (In this context, the attacker in question is in an offside position by 2 full yards or more)

  2. If there is ANY FORM OF DOUBT with the offside - Never raise the flag. Not at the beginning. Not at the end.

  3. Is there a OFFSIDE offense that you have identified which ALSO includes an imminent goal scoring opportunity?

    1. Direction - Is the attacker headed directly towards goal

    2. Distance – Is the attacker within or about to enter the penalty area

    3. Time – An imminent goal scoring opportunity likely concludes within 3 full seconds or less. While often it’s time enough for a controlling touch and a shot on goal, it may also include a short pass to an open teammate to finish the goal scoring opportunity

VAR Delay 1 - LA Galaxy v Chicago

This incident seems a little strange because the attacker glances over, sees that the AR has slowed down to call offside, and basically surrenders. While it looks odd in this VAR delay situation, stick with the delay protocol – which is to flag once the situation is concluded. Not all attackers will stop.
Why is this a correct usage of VAR delay:

  1. The attacker is in an offside position, but NOT in the clear and obvious range

  2. There is no doubt for the AR about the attacker being in an offside position

  3. Yes, it is an imminent goal scoring opportunity (if he had continued)

    1. The attacker is headed directly towards goal

    2. The attacker is entering the penalty area – given the speed and quality of the pass, his first touch is actually just inside the penalty area even after slowing down!

    3. Time – The attacker could have taken one touch to shift the ball onto the angle he wanted and then taken a shot at goal or rounded the goalkeeper. This would easily have had a result within 3 seconds

VAR Delay 2 - LA Football Club v Sporting KC (5th min)

This clip shows when a VAR delay is not needed or expected. The AR in this match correctly raises the flag right away.
Why is this NOT a time to use VAR delay:

  1. The attacker is in a clear and obvious offside position. Raise flag immediately

VAR Delay 3 - LA Football Club v Sporting KC (28th min)

Yes, the same assistant, Jason White, is back (he’s the poster child for VAR delay this week). This time he correctly uses of VAR delay, although the attacker misses the goal negating the possibility of using video review.
This is a perfect example of when to utilize VAR Delay.

Why is this a correct usage of VAR delay:

  1. The attacker is in an offside position, but NOT in the clear and obvious range

  2. There is no doubt for the AR about the attacker being in an offside position

  3. Yes, it is an imminent goal scoring opportunity.

    1. The attacker is headed directly towards goal

    2. The attacker is entering the penalty area – his first touch is within the penalty arc

    3. Time – The attacker takes one touch to setup the ball and his second touch is a shot on goal

VAR Delay 4 - LA Football Club v Sporting KC (35th min)

While open for debate, let’s just say the attacker is in an offside position. and the AR has no doubt the attacker is in an offside position.

Why is this could be a time to use VAR delay:

  1. Yes it is an imminent goal scoring opportunity

    1. The attacker is headed directly towards goal

    2. The attacker is about to enter the penalty area – BORDERLINE, if the pass had been stronger, the attacker’s first touch would have been much closer to the penalty area

    3. Time – The attacker has a quite a head start on the defenders, but had it not been for having to wait for the pass and take an extra touch it seems virtually certain that the attacker has a fantastic chance to score

While on the limit distance wise, we could support the AR utilizing VAR Delay on this play, but once the imminent attack did not materialize, the AR was correct to raise the flag at that point.

VAR Delay 5 - DC United v Atlanta (62nd min)

This is a good example when to flag immediately vs using VAR Delay.
Why is this NOT a time to use VAR delay:

  1. The attacker is in an offside position, but NOT in the clear and obvious range

  2. There is no doubt for the AR about the attacker being in an offside position

  3. No, this is not an imminent goal scoring opportunity

    1. The attacker elects to hold up the ball, vs heading towards goal

    2. The attacker is within the penalty area

    3. Time – The attacker chooses to lay the ball off to another teammate, who still has work to do before getting a shot towards goal can happen

VAR Delay 6 - DC United v Atlanta (36th min)

This is another good example when to flag immediately vs using VAR Delay. Although some of the criteria is met, it is not an imminent attack.
Why is this NOT a time to use VAR delay:

  1. The attacker is in an offside position, but NOT in the clear and obvious range

  2. There is no doubt for the AR about the attacker being in an offside position

  3. No, this is not an imminent goal scoring opportunity

    1. The pass is towards the corner, the attacker is forced to chase the ball and does not have control of the ball

    2. The attacker is within the penalty area, but moving away from goal without control of the ball

    3. Time – The attacker has work to do, with no teammate to cross the ball to, he is forced to pull the ball back.

“Doubt is not Delay”

San Jose v Montreal - Incorrect offside

Unfortunately this is an incorrect decision by the assistant referee and it is most likely caused by being slightly out of position. No doubt that the AR will get this right if he were just 3 yards further ahead, right on the second to last opponent.
Whenever this happens we like to look at the actions of the AR leading up to the incident to find areas for improvement. Watch the clip closely and you can find a couple of clues that you can use to avoid this happening in your next match.
First of all the AR does well to side step with the STLO as the ball moves away from goal, staying square to the field the entire time. That all changes when a new attacking sequence is started by Montreal. As the MTL attacker moves toward goal, he looks up, a clue that he is about to cross the ball. At that moment the AR needs to know an offside decision is looming. At that moment, he also needs to realize that the defenders are also aware of what is coming and have begun to drop deeper at a faster speed. He has about one second (or two steps?) to give a burst of speed to maintain his position with the STLO, realizing that the play is developing more rapidly than the speed at which he was moving. Although the AR does turn to sprint, he does so too late and without enough urgency and power to make up the slight distance lost. Two steps of explosive movement and he is level with the STLO.
For your next match: Read the attack, use explosive movement, position for decision.

AR Call of the Week #1

Brian Poeschel - COL v POR

We have to go to Colorado v Portland for one of the choices, not merely out of sympathy for AR 1 Brian Poeschel (and AR 2 Adam Garner, by the way) but because despite the frozen tundra and icicles hanging from his eyebrows he did make an excellent offside decision, which ended up being a penalty kick for handling plus red card for denial of a goal. A strange sequence of events…but all correct.
*Some have asked: “If the handball is considered deliberate, why wouldn’t that negate the offside, being that it was a deliberate play by a defender?” Good question, dude.
First, it cannot be considered a “save” because Law XI explicitly says that a save is when “…a player stops…. with any part of the body except the hands/arms…”
Second, a player is not allowed to deliberately play the ball with his hands/arms so it cannot be considered for a deliberate play when dealing with offside.

Kyle Atkins - ORL v NYFC

Kyle Atkins in Orlando v NY Football club is your second choice for Call of the Week. This decision has two possible points of decision as there could have been a second touch that would have made the decision deliciously close. No flag is the right decision.

Jose DaSilva - PHI v TOR

Finally, we’ll give Jose DaSilva some props for keeping the flag down on the far side in Philadelphia. Getting far side offside decisions correct is one of our points of emphasis, so shout out when we get it right.

 
Who had Call of the Week #1?
Brian Poeschel - Colorado v Portland
Kyle Atkins - Orlando v NY Football Club
Jose DaSilva - Philadelphia v Toronto