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Possession or no possession
by Ridge Mahoney, August 7th, 2007 10AM

TAGS:  mls


Watching Matt Reis have a ball kicked from his grasp, which is specifically prohibited by the rules, into the net for the winning goal in D.C. United's 3-0 win over the Revs last weekend brought back memories of a conversation with U.S. keeper Kasey Keller regarding his days with English League club Millwall.

During the 1993-94 season, Millwall -- playing in the League Championship, a tier below the Premier League - met Arsenal at home in the third round of the FA Cup.

The teams were locked at 0-0 in stoppage time when Keller dropped a high ball under a fierce challenge. He appealed for a foul as Tony Adams tapped the ball into the net, but the goal stood amid furious Millwall protests.

Keller recalled his postgame discussion of the incident with his manager at the time, former Irish international Mick McCarthy, just as tough as a manager than he was as a player. McCarthy told him, "It probably was a foul. But still, I expected you to do better."

Reis placed his hand on the ball a split-second before Josh Gros kicked the ball out of his grasp and into the net. The rules state the ball may not be kicked or headed out of the goalkeeper's possession, which is defined as the keeper having one hand on the ball. (He need not be holding it.) By the letter of the law, referee Alex Prus should have disallowed the goal, but only by viewing a frame-by-frame replay could one discern Reis had touched the ball before Gros.

Reis had bobbled the ball in the first place, failing to catch a long shot from Clyde Simms, and while lying on the ground didn't cover it up immediately.

He also could have kicked it away, as it slowly rolled near this foot, but reached for it with his left hand instead once he realized Gros was barreling in.

Revs coach Steve Nicol, while certainly lamenting the refereeing error publicly, will likely remind Reis, as McCarthy told Keller, something along the lines of, "If you make the play, you won't need the referee to bail you out."

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