Keeping your eyes on play behind the referee's is one of the more difficult task assistant referees do. This week there were several incidents that occurred out of the view of the referee. Could or should these have been spotted by the AR? Should the trailing AR been able to help? Regardless it is important that assistants recognize certain fouls as serious foul play or violent conduct and get that information to the referee.
This week we will look at two incidents that went either unpunished or under punished and should there have been involvement by the assistants. A quick look at indecisiveness that could be avoided with different flag technique. Finally, an interesting offside situation for you to analyze and vote on.
Behind the Referee's Back
We will start in Atlanta where NY Football Club's #27 kicks Atlanta's #4 away from the ball as they both try to get into good positions for an attack. The referee's focus is on the ball and there is potential offside situation that AR 1 needs to concentrate on.
The foul (violent conduct) occurs in the general area of the possible offside situation so it is quite possible that AR 1 has gotten a glimpse of what happened but doesn't raise the flag because he isn't sure. This is not a time to guess as to what happened, to raise the flag you need to be 100% sure you saw the incident correctly.
What about AR 2? Their focus should be on play behind the referee and just because it occurs on the other AR's half doesn't mean that they cannot get involved.
On counter attacks and these types of plays it is not uncommon for defenders (or attackers) to attempt to slow down or interfere with supporting runs off the ball. As you see these plays develop in a match the near AR should primarily focus on offside possibilities with an awareness of off the ball runs and trailing AR should focus on players behind play and away from the ball.
To be clear, this is a difficult decision, the point to be taken is no matter your position you need to be aware of the areas of potential off the ball misconduct.
Behind the Referee's Back 2
94th minute of play and behind the referee's back New England's #10 commits an act of violent conduct by striking an opponent. The referee does not have a clear view of the incident and asks for help, however none of the crew has seen it clearly. AR 2 is a long way away and would not be able to credibly note the amount of force or point of contact. AR 1 is physically closer, but partially blocked by the player's body so difficult to get involved with confidence, but should be focus in this area of the field.
Again, we're not saying that on these two specific plays the ARs should have gotten involved, however, we are pointing out areas of focus that need to be part of your overall game.
A simple throw in decision becomes contentious because the AR delays pointing, not sure which direction it should go. He is looking for help from a referee that isn't coming. Eventually he picks a direction. Right or wrong is not the point.
If you do not get immediate help from the referee (in this case he is too far away to offer credible help) go with your gut feeling. However, do not move your flag from one side to the other. Keep it steady until you decide which direction you are going. Moving the flag back and forth is an outward sign of indecisiveness. Keep that to yourself and no one will be the wiser.
Call of the Week #12 - Winner - Eric Weisbrod
Call of the Week #13
The only goal in Minnesota v Orlando is a candidate #1 for Call of the Week as Kevin Klinger keeps the flag down on a very tight decision, proven correct by the freeze frame. Nobody likes when an AR calls back a goal for offside, but we do, when it's right. Brian Poeschel does just that in FC Dallas v Houston. Final candidate is Peter Balciunas as he correctly reads the return pass leading up to Real Salt Lake's goal v Philadelphia.
What Should You Do? - RSL v NYFC - Answer
Last week we presented this offside play for you to analyze. The majority of you answered correctly. The flag should have been raised at the moment that the attacker challenged for the ball from an offside position. Offside positioned attacker's are not allowed to "trap" the defender by purposefully not playing the ball, but then challenging once the defender deliberately plays the ball.
What Should You Do? Houston v Atlanta
This play is actually from Week #12, but certainly worth looking at. We don't want to lead the witness, so we ask that not only do you decide if a flag is necessary, but your reasoning. On the day, no offside was given and a penalty kick was called.
Feel free to add comments. Answer next week.