Week 28 -  Foul in the APP

Week 28  
Foul in the APP

Portland v Colorado 58’
Portland v Colorado 84’

In Week 28 there was only one video review in the three MLS matches. It was an unusual one as it was the first time that a penalty kick decision was rescinded due to a foul in the APP (Attacking Possession Phase). Approximately 25 minutes later on the other end of the field, there was a very dubious foul that led to a dangerous free kick and nearly a goal , which had the announcers asking; If a goal had been scored would this foul have been reviewed?

What happened: Portland v Colorado - 58th Minute  

Program Output (What the public saw)

Operator Output (What the VAR saw)

With the score at 1-0 to POR, a penalty kick was awarded to COL for a foul by POR goalkeeper Steve Clark on COL's Jack McBean in the POR penalty area. There is no doubt that Clark fouled McBean, as he failed to make contact with the ball and made heavy contact with McBean after the COL player had already played the ball.
The Video Review Process:
As with all penalties, the footage was checked by the VAR in this manner.

  • Confirms with referee that the on field decision was a penalty kick.

  • Checks to see if McBean was offside on the initial pass.

  • Confirms that indeed the penalty decision was not an clear error.

  • Checks the APP for a foul prior to the penalty decision

At this point he could see that McBean had fouled POR defender Liam Ridgewell just prior to the awarding of the penalty kick. The offense was certainly within the APP. (The APP in this incident started with a forward pass from COL #4 Wilson to McBean at 56:27) Ridgewell does slow down somewhat in front of McBean before the contact, but McBean does then move through the back of Ridgewell and the expectation in such a situation is that a foul would be called. From a Video Review perspective, the non calling of this foul was a clear error.

RRA Monitor Output (What the referee saw)

Why did it take so long: The Video Review process was slower than we would like. The operator output video above shows a good example of what can happen on occasion when the RO (Replay Operator) doesn’t understand what the VAR wants to look at. (Anyone who has ever been in a video editing booth will understand this problem) The VAR had to get the RO back to the footage just before the penalty and once there, the VAR had difficulty finding the best angle to analyze the situation. Only one camera angle had the incident clearly visible. (1. Game). Using the zoom feature he was able to identify the foul and recommend a review.
PRO VARs regularly train on simulators with ROs to diminish this issue. The average time for this type of review is usually under 2 minutes from incident to the final decision.

What happened: Portland v Colorado - 84th Minute  

Foul at 85th minute - No review

POR Armenteros goes to ground on what originally appears as a foul by COL Blomberg in the attacking third with the potential of a dangerous free kick. On second look, it is not a foul, but a well executed dive, as the announcers would later say, he “conned the referee”.
The ensuing free kick comes agonizingly close, but just slips out past the far post.
Seeing that the referee had reviewed and cancelled the previous penalty kick for a simple foul just 25 minutes prior, if a goal had been scored, would the VAR have checked this foul and on seeing that it was a clear error, recommend a review also?

The answer is No.
Video Review protocol only allows the VAR to check for incidents in the APP leading to goals, penalty kicks or DOGSO red cards. This is just a free-kick and as such is not reviewable. It could only be reviewed if it should have been a penalty and was wrongly given outside the penalty area (clearly not the case here), or if it was possibly a straight red card offense (clearly not the case here). In itself, it is just a free kick. Even if the ball goes into the goal from the free kick, there is nothing that VAR can do.
Imagine that if this were the case, every foul and thus every free kick, would have to be checked by the VAR before the game could continue as there is no way on knowing when a goal might be scored from one. There would be constant delays.

APP Note: The APP does not apply to straight red cards for serious foul play or violent conduct. Those plays are looked at as stand alone incidents without regard to what happened previously.


For any additional questions related to these incidents, other incidents, or video review as a whole, please contact Christa Mann or Sean McCabe of Major League Soccer via the contact details below.

Christa Mann
Communications Manager
Major League Soccer

Sean McCabe
Manager, Video Review Operations