Although there were many good offside decisions, some of them easy enough for even a fourth official to get right, this week's focus is on when the assistant must take a role in game management. There are certain areas of the field which require the AR take ownership of the foul decision and raise their flag and if it happens that both the referee and assistant whistle/flag simultaneous, then all the better. Also, there is a quick review of the procedures for mass confrontation.
Assisting the Referee at the Edge of the Penalty Area
This past week saw two nearly identical locations for penalty area decisions that needed the flag from the assistant. For the first one in Portland, a misplayed ball leaves the referee out of position to be in a good position to see the foul. It is also within the area of control of the assistant and it is critical that he make a decision. The flag on this play is also critical as there is no doubt that the assistant has clearly seen the foul and as soon as the whistle is blown, moves smartly towards the corner flag, indicating penalty.
Ignore Taylor Twellman's commentary praising the referee Ted Unkel, when we all know it was the assistant Frank Anderson that made this call.
Since the flag is raised from the official that was in the best credible position to see the foul, the players are left with little to complain about.
In New England the location is almost the same, but the assistant's flag is not raised. As you watch the video note the referee's position on the freeze frame when the ball is played. No referee, no matter how fast is going to make up that distance.
When this tackle takes place it is the assistant referee's responsibility to make a decision and flag for it because he is clearly in the best position to see this foul. Look at the image from the panoramic view to compare the referee's and AR's positions.
Of course, without knowing for sure what the player's reactions might be, would a flag here have helped settle this situation and confirm the referee's decision? The AR needs to be part of this decision and raise their flag.
Foul Near the Penalty Area
In the battle of New York, assistant referee Chris Strickland deals with a foul in nearly the same area as the previous two. Raising his flag leaves no doubt that this is a foul, additionally, after the whistle is blown, he immediately moves back up field to indicate that the foul occurs outside the area. (not seen on this clip). Even though this foul is clearly outside the penalty area, this additional signal is still necessary just in case the referee was unsighted and it simply is just good practice as an assistant.
Handball in Portland
Although this handball in the Portland vs Vancouver match is not in the same location as the previous three fouls, it is the assistant referee's decision to be made because he simply has a better angled point of view than the referee. This is the type of play where the AR needs to get out of their comfort zone and make the call that the game needs and in this case, does so.
Dealing with Mass Confrontation
The referee crew's main role in mass confrontation is to try to defuse the situation before it escalates. However, sometimes that is just not possible, as in the case of this post game confrontation in Portland. AR Mike Kampmeinert, correctly intervenes immediately because there are only two players involved. In fact, Mike's quick action probably saves Portland player Aspirilla from committing violent conduct himself and also seeing a red card. However, once the rest of the players arrive it is time for the referee crew to form a triangle of control and position themselves where they can observe the players.
In watching the video clip below you can see that both assistants are surrounded by players and even the fourth official gets into the act . Are their actions contributing to calm the situation or are they adding fire? Who will spot any retaliatory incident?
For assistant referees dealing with mass confrontation:
- Attempt to intervene/diffuse if closer than referee when only two players involved
- Form Triangle of Control
- Nearest AR - Step back and observe
- Furthest AR - Take a wider view
- Once calm - Consult with referee about misconduct
Fourth Official Knows "Wait and See"
Rarely does an assistant referee get injured and needs to be replaced by the fourth official. It did happen in Chicago, as fourth official Kevin Terry Jr. stepped in to take over AR1 duties and he showed his understanding of the wait and see concept on this offside opportunity that leads to a goal scoring opportunity. Paul Rejer has more details here.