One of our initiative this year was to increase the overall work rate during dynamic play, with additional emphasis on play near the penalty area. From MLS Week 20 we have examples of both good high level work rate and some that are not were we want to be. We are looking at two examples of where a little more effort may have changed a decision and another where nothing happened, but was the AR in position if there was a decision to be made?
A controversial decision in NYFC turns out to be correct, but could it be done without the controversy?
Finally, the answer to What Should You Do and Call of the Week.
When You Feel Something Is Wrong
This goal in NYFC v Toronto was called back for offside, we liked that, because in the end the result was correct. However the procedure wasn't as good as it could be and the confusion most likely contributed to the sending off of the Toronto head coach mere seconds after the restart.
The confusion is caused by the AR who moves up his line, which is seen as confirmation of a "good" goal. Referee Jorge Gonzales has a gut feeling that the goal did not look right from his angle and begins communicating with him. Eventually they need to speak face to face and he asks if the player in the middle of the goal - the one the ball deflected off into the goal - was in an offside position. The AR says yes and the goal is annulled. The AR had not seen that that second attacker had touched the ball.
In situations where there is a need to verify the goal between the referee and the AR, it is best to stay standing by the flag per customary procedure, and if you have moved up already and it is clear that something is wrong - even move back towards the corner flag. Players and coaches know this silent signal and using it helps send notice that the goal has not been awarded yet, which creates a different reaction from the feeling of having a goal taken away after it was given.
It is important to keep developing good habits with your movement, and having a higher work rate is one that you can control. It is a mental habit to tell yourself to give full effort on even plays that don't appear to demand it.
Look at these two examples of where just a little more work rate would improve your positioning just enough to make a difference. In Seattle, the AR is chasing a ball down the line too casually and falls behind play and that casualness leaves him out of position when the ball is moved up field where it is challenged. What would happen if the challenge resulted in a stolen ball and a quick pass towards goal? There is no danger on this play - but what is stopping the AR from adding a little speed to his movement to build a habit that will be there for that future play that will need him in perfect position.
In Montreal we have an offside situation where the flag ends the play and no beautiful goal from the volley. When you see the freeze frame it is extremely tight and thanks to having the penalty area line to judge the positions of the attacker and defenders, the raised flag can be supported (and was by the KMI review). It was reasoned that the attacker's upper body was ahead of the defender's foot. Although I think that benefit of the doubt and no flag could be supported also.
The freeze frame shows the AR to be a step or two out of position. Watch his movement before the play. There is a small moment (when the ball is passed away from goal) where there appears to be a relaxed turn and walk just before there is a realization that the ball was stolen and the offside situation happens - at that point it is too late.
If the work rate had been slightly higher and he had side stepped instead of turning his body up the line, would it have left him in perfect position to judge? And would that perfect position allowed him to judge the offside decision differently?
Here are two examples that speak for themselves. Kyle Atkins turns on the speed and could anyone argue with him about this goal line decision? Especially if you imagine the reaction of the players had he not been there. Tell me you aren't impressed.
Joe Fletcher has a reputation for a high work rate and there is nothing you can fault on this run that many might say is unnecessary once the attackers give up the chase. However, you can't argue with the impression it sends. This is his habit and he does it because he has practiced doing this for those times where the attackers don't give up and a tight boundary line decision will be made.
Call of the Week #19 - Winner - Eric Weisbrod
Call of the Week #20
wo great decision to choose from again. Mike Rottersman at Century Link where Seattle pulls off a stunning comeback and this goal was part of it versus Cameron Blanchard who allows the flick header to the back post because the attacker is even. (Look closely at the turf lines and the feet of the Portland defender.) Who had the call of the week?
Answer - What Should You Do? North Carolina FC v Miami
This is not offside. Although player #29 does run towards the ball he does not interfere with an opponent as the defender has a clear line to the ball. This play should be allowed to continue and the own goal should stand, as even though the player at the near post (to the AR) is in an offside position he does not interfere with the defender who miss plays the ball into his own net.
On this play it is PRO's opinion that the original attacker was not offside on the original shot.