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The cases for, and against, Kreis
by Ridge Mahoney, May 7th, 2008 6:30AM

TAGS:  mls


[REF WATCH/VIDEO] A blatantly blown offside call in a 2-2 tie with the Galaxy last Saturday that cost Real Salt Lake a goal triggered a riposte from Coach Jason Kreis regarding officiating decisions that had gone against his team.Without passing judgment on Kreis's timing or rhetoric, examining a few of the incidents and decisions reveals how a simple case of inadequate positioning can lead to a bad call, and how coaches and players may not be aware of instructions by which officials are directed to interpret certain situations.

PENALTY! TIMES TWO. Kreis complained about both penalty kicks called against his team in a 4-1 loss to D.C. United April 26 at RFK Stadium. A Dema Kovalenko handball prompted the first penalty kick, and an incident at the edge of the RSL penalty area in which Luciano Emilio crashed to the ground under a challenge resulted in the second.VIDEO

A clause in a memorandum issued by U.S. Soccer in 2005 as per directives from FIFA, clearly states the case against Kovalenko. While sliding in for a tackle - otherwise legally, it must be pointed out - as Mark Burch launched a cross, Kovalenko's arms were extended over his head and away from his body. His right arm batted down the ball and to the spot pointed referee Baldomero Toledo. Kovalenko protested, of course, but a referee is permitted to call handball if he thinks a player deliberately attempted to block the ball.

A memo dated April 27, 2005 was sent to national and state referees by Alfred Kleinaitis, U.S. Soccer Manager of Referee Development and Education, and passed onto the MLS teams. In part, it reads:

"The position of the player's hand or arm at the time of the contact - if the hand or arm is carried in an unnatural or unusual position (e.g., high up in the air or, while defending against a free kick, far away from the body), the likelihood of an offense is greater."

The memo also says a referee must allow for "reaction time," in case the player is very close to the ball when it is struck or takes a ricochet or deflection. Kovalenko was just yards away from Burch, and might have escaped punishment if his arms were close to his body. But a sliding tackler who extends his arms over his head defending a cross isn't going to get away with very many blocks.

On the second PK, Emilio cut inside defender Chris Wingert and burst through his attempted hog-tie just outside the penalty area. As Emilio pulled free and got inside the box, Carey Talley came in behind him and cleared the ball with a sliding tackle as Emilio hit the ground.

Kreis protested that the Wingert foul occurred outside the box and a free kick should have been awarded. (Wingert could also have been sent off for deliberately trying to prevent a scoring opportunity.) But Talley's challenge, by which he thrust his right leg across Emilio's legs from behind while plowing into the ball with his left foot, had "foul" written all over it. If he keeps his feet and plays the ball, probably no foul is called.

FREE KICK FRET. Kreis believed referee Kevin Stott called Kovalenko (funny how his name keeps coming up, isn't it?) for dangerous play on the free kick David Beckham drilled into the net for the second Galaxy goal. Dangerous play is punished by an indirect free kick, which cannot be played directly into the opponent's goal to be counted

However, before and during the free kick, Stott's arms were at his side. A referee is directed to raise his arm during the taking of an indirect free kick. In the absence of this signal, players - and coaches - shouldn't assume the referee means something else.

And a referee can often call a player for a direct-kick foul, such as tripping, kicking, pushing or charging, while he also is guilty of dangerous play.

FLAG UP! NOT! RSL lost a perfectly legitimate goal in the 43rd minute of the Galaxy game, when Kenny Deuchar re-directed a low ball from Kyle Beckerman into the net. [VIDEO]

Deuchar, level with the last defender, protested, rightly. The assistant referee was about three yards behind the play, and from this slightly altered angle it appeared Deuchar was closer to the goal than the defender. If an assistant referee is ahead, i.e., closer to the goal than the last defender, attackers who are level appear to be further away from the goal.

It is because of situations like this that assistant referees are instructed to stay even with the last defender, as it is from this position that offside can be best determined. Because of parallax, an assistant referee just a few yards behind or ahead of the last defender will see a distorted view.


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