Week #20 July 22-24

The All-Star game traditionally marks the midway point of the season and the moment where teams take a stark look at where they are in the standings.  To start this second half off we are going to reemphasize giving benefit of the doubt to the attack on close offside decisions, something that has served us well during the first half of the season.  Also, this week we give you more guidance on deciding between deliberate or deflection on offside decisions after the good debate we had last week with the clip from NYRB v Orlando.

Defining Deliberate or Deflection

When I first saw this play my first reaction was that is was a deflection and that the offside decision was correct.   However after looking at it again and conferring with others,  this is not offside as the defender deliberately plays the ball.  He does it poorly, but he still does it deliberately.  
Many of you left correct comments that explained why you felt it was deliberate.  Combining them we can come up with criteria that be used to decide if a play is deliberate when referring to offside:

  • Defender goes to the ball, not the ball to the defender
  • It is an action vs a reaction
  • The player runs towards the ball and plays it in a different location then from where he starts his run towards it
  • Defender has time and space
  • Defender has control of his body when he makes the action.
  • It is irrelevant if he plays it poorly

Referees need to understand these criteria because the referee may be the one that determines whether the play was deliberate.   Communication on a play like this is vital.
Some people, including myself, have suggested that the referee could use the same criteria that is used for Law 12 - deliberate pass to the goalkeeper,  but the situations are two different applications of the Laws.
In Law 11, the defending player simply needs to deliberately play the ball.
In Law 12, the defending player has to deliberately kick/pass the ball to the goalkeeper.  Therefore, a missed kick or interception that rolls to the goalkeeper, although a deliberate action, is not the same as making a deliberate pass to the goalkeeper.
(Thanks to FIFA Instructor Hector Vergara for this interpretation)

Benefit of Doubt to the Attacker

To reemphasize that we want to continue giving benefit of doubt to the attacker in the second half of the season, here are two clips where we feel are close enough to keep the flag down.  Even though the flag can be supported as the camera angles are not perfect, do you agree that these are close enough that no flag would be better?


Game Management and Communicating with the Referee

Two clips from the same match, Houston v Vancouver which emphasize working with the referee. One good, one not so good.

The first shows a quick transition where the referee is caught behind play and is blocked for what looks to be a handball.  As you watch the clip determine who has the better view and credible position to make this call.  It is clearly the assistant referee who needs to make this call and he does so. (Ignore the announcer who says the "offside flag" is raised).  This is the assistant getting out of their comfort zone and making a crucial decision at a key moment of the game.

The not so good decision comes at the 89th minute of this 0-0 match, if ever there were a time when you need to be alert and concentrated it is now.  Also, this is a time where fatigue can effect decision making and effort.  Two suggestions for this play.  First, burst of speed is needed to get a better view, nothing beats hustle and full effort to be in a credible position, you can do this.  Second, delay the flag.  Is there any reason that an quick decision needs to be made?  Read the reaction of the players as one team sets up for a goal kick as the other retreats.

3 Great Decisions

We present three great decisions, all of them highlighting the theme of keeping the flag down and giving benefit of the doubt to the attack.  Additionally all three of these decision eventually lead to goals, which we like...a lot.

Adam Wienckowski

First is Adam Wienckowski for his decision to keep his flag down which allows NY Red Bulls to score their first goal.


Andrew Bigelow

Second up is Andrew Bigelow in Toronto, where his tight decision on Toronto's Altidore continues the attack that eventually leads to a goal.


Jason White

Finally, Jason White in Columbus reads this play perfectly allowing play to continue which results in a penalty kick and eventual goal.