Week 17 of MLS was rivalry week and so a mass confrontation was probably inevitable. So as good a time as any to review proper procedures.
Teamwork and communication among the referee crew is still something we continually need to improve on, so we look at two situations one in Chicago and one in New York.
Last week's What Should You Do? generated some good discussion from the few of you that had the courage to include your comments. We have an answer that may not satisfy all of you, but it comes from the top.
Ye Ole Triangle of Control
Houston vs FC Dallas presents us with a good opportunity to review some old instructions on dealing with mass confrontation, which are still valid. Paul Rejer, PRO Director of Training and Education, has already written about this situation from the Houston and FC Dallas rivalry match on the PRO website.
Get there to diffuse
Once mass confrontation among opponents arises, a member of the referee
team must get there immediately to prevent escalation. For each step you
are late, it allows one more player to participate.
• Separate and disperse
The first official on the scene should work to carefully separate the immediate players. Once three or more players enter the scene, the referee should step back and observe the situation. The two assistant referees should also take a vantage point to observe the actions of the players while the fourth official maintains his position and monitors the bench area unless he can get to the scene sooner than the bench side AR. If this is the case, the bench side AR assumes the duties of the fourth official. This procedure forms a triangle around the confrontation and maximizes the sight angles from which to monitor the situation and gather information. As the situation settles, officials should attempt to channel opposing players into safe zones away from the hot spot in a positive, non-threatening manner.
• Observe and prevent others from joining in
All four officials should not focus on the same hot spot or become too involved in gaining control of the situation. As stated above, form a triangle around the situation, observe, and make notes (mental and otherwise). Look for positive ways to prevent other players from joining in as these players often add “fuel to the fire.”
• Dispense appropriate misconduct
Once the situation is under control and players have been channeled to safe
zones, the referee team must quickly dispense the appropriate punishment.
Teamwork in Chicago and New York (actually New Jersey)
This play may have gone unnoticed by most people. How did the referee see the misconduct off the ball in New York Red Bulls vs New York FC?
The misconduct is for stopping a promising attack, as the defender pulls down the attacker behind play when he realizes that he is out of position to stop a good attacking opportunity. This play is the type we have been asking all PRO assistants to be aware of - a counter attack with players behind or off the ball.
The referee needs to concentrate on the area where the ball is, so it is important for both ARs to keep an eye elsewhere. Fortunately on this play the fouled attacker is also the player that AR 1 needs to be concentrating on because he is potentially the most likely attacker to come into an offside position/play. When the pass is played and he sees the foul he uses the communication system to alert the referee to the foul and suggests misconduct. The crew looks good and no one can argue they get the call correct.
In Chicago we have another quick counter after a turnover that leaves the referee out of position and needing help. There is no offside situation to concentrate on so the AR needs to put himself into "referee mode" and fully concentrate on contact and potential fouls.
When you watch this incident the AR is indeed closest with the best view and although difficult (which is usually the case) he needs to assume the responsibility of calling the foul.
Advice on this situation is that the referee immediately communicate that he will need help once he sees the long pass that puts him out of position. The AR can communicate that they heard the referee and "assume control". When the foul is committed - eye contact with referee and say "foul, foul, foul" and then flag -. This gives the referee one more quick opportunity to make their own decision if they have seen it well enough. Again, emphasizing the difficult nature of this play, the AR must still make a decision on this play. Which would include the nature of the contact and the misconduct that follows.
Winner - Call of the Week #16 - Craig Lowry
Call of the Week #17
This week we feature a great call by Jason White, where the flag is kept down, but the attacker misses the shot. We can give them chance, but we can't score for them....(Jason probably could have scored if given the same chance.)
Next up is Eric Boria in Chicago - (have you noticed how Chicago keeps supplying opportunities for Call of the Week?)
Finally, MLS's Goal of the Week was provided courtesy of Mike Kampmeinert who patiently waits for a clearly offside attacker to get out of the way (and not interfere) so that a clearly onside Opara can score in acrobatic fashion.
Answer - What Should You Do? - INDY v NCFC -
The majority wins...barely. This is offside. Indy player #9 makes a clear attempt to play the ball that is near him that impacts his opponent. Simply put, #9 comes so close to the ball that you may suspect that he even touches it (he doesn't). He is jut too close to ignore the impact he may have on the defender, who although playing stupidly with his arm in the air, can't be punished for being stupid. Move #9 a little farther away from the ball and you have a penalty kick result. The flag is correct as long as you can determine from your position that he has made an impact.
There is a big risk in keeping the flag down and letting the referee determine whether the attacker interfered, as they will not be concentrating on that aspect of play. Overturning the penalty kick without a flag (or late flag) will lead to more confusion and controversy. We think that the AR should be able to determine impact from his angle and because the attacker is so close to the ball.
What Should You Do? Portland II v Reno
Another offside situation for you to decide what should you do. This one comes from the USL - Portland II v Reno. A shot is taken and saved. Should you stop play for offside?