This week we concentrate on staying alert and movement near or in the penalty area. Over the last weeks we have pointed out how important the movement and positioning of the assistant referee is to making correct decisions and we'll continue to do so this week. In fact, it is a point of emphasis for the rest of the season. If there are defenders and attackers in the penalty area you should be square to the field and side stepping during that time. If the speed of the play demands a sprint, that should be done with shoulders square to the field.
These two photos are examples of assistants moving at high speed, yet keeping their shoulders square to the field, enhancing their ability to make correct decisions.
For your next matches pay special attention to your movement when play is in the penalty area, especially when the defense has cleared the ball and begun to move up field, this is no time to relax.
This may require you to increase your tempo and effort level, which you should have the fitness to do.
Vancouver v Real Salt Lake: Is this a good goal? You decide.
Before we get into last week's plays, take a look at the first Vancouver goal from this past Wednesday. Is this offside? Vote, comment on your reasoning and we will render what is right in next week's edition.
Staying Alert - Part One
One of the reasons that you need to stay focused and in good position even at times when the defense has clear possession is that s*** happens. And, really, in a professional match there is no time to let your guard down. Watch how quickly this ball turns from defensive possession into an attack on goal. This AR was ready and in position to make the offside decision necessary. A good lesson for everyone about staying concentrated and in position at all times.
Staying Alert - Part Deux
Part Deux (notice how I try to be inclusive to our French Canadians) of staying alert is during the setting up of a free kick. Props to AR Kathyrn Nesbitt who stays focused and ready even though play has been stopped for this free kick in New England.
The advice here is to behave the same as if the ball were live, staying with the second to last defender and tracking attackers. Also, don't assume that the referee has decided to make the free kick ceremonial, better to flag the play and the free kick be retaken, than to be caught napping.
Movement When Play is in the Penalty Area
Watch this clip with special focus on the movement of the assistant as highlighted in the split screen near the end. Notice that when the ball is played back into the box the assistant's shoulders are facing up field and he is not square to the field. By the time he has turned square the attacker has moved to an onside position, unfortunately too late to make the correct decision.
Watch the clip a second time at normal speed. Are the defenders moving up field at a rate of speed where the AR cannot side step? Could the AR have increased his work rate to stay square to the field? This is where an AR needs to concentrate and continually improve on.
Although not exactly the same, but with play near the penalty area, watch this clip and notice the AR's movement as he continually stays square to the field to make this offside decision that leads to an attack on goal. Even as he has to adjust his speed he still remains square to the field, maintaining good position and this leads to the correct decision.
Two Great Calls of the Week
As usual, we highlight just two of the many great decisions made by PRO assistant referees this week.
First up is Kathryn Nesbitt in New England for this double offside decision, with the second half deciding whether the attacker was ahead of the ball. (or did that even matter - think "impact")
Second is Frank Anderson in Sporting Kansas City where a goal is scored off the rebound from a shot. Good concentration to take a mental picture of the position of the attacker at the taking of the shot.