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Ref Watch: Plenty of tough calls in Week 1
by Ridge Mahoney, March 25th, 2009 7AM



[MLS] Obviously, the Galaxy shouldn't have been awarded a penalty kick when a ball bounced off the underside of defender Rodney Wallace's leg and not his arm in its 2-2 tie with D.C. United Sunday, but should referee Jair Marrufo have given a penalty earlier when Christian Gomez and Dema Kovalenko got tangled up at the edge of the penalty area?

No. Kovalenko did foul Gomez (and was cautioned) but initiated contact outside the box and Gomez fell into the penalty area. In the case of foul outside, fall inside, Marrufo got it correct. Both players also had their arms extended, though it appeared Kovalenko had grabbed hold of Gomez's jersey with one arm and the other extended in a traditional, "Look, ref, no hands!" gesture designed to demonstrate absolute innocence.

There were plenty of handball situations in the first week of play. Before awarding Toronto FC a penalty when Michael Harrington used his arm to swat the ball, referee Jorge Gonzalez let play continue on two other occasions.

Dwayne De Rosario knocked the ball down with his arm and should have been punished, even though he was in Kansas City's penalty area. On the other occasion, TFC defender Adrian Serioux, under a stiff challenge from Josh Wolff as they dueled for a bouncing ball, grazed the ball with his upraised right arm at shoulder height. Gonzalez may not have seen the contact, which was slight, and several other players besides Serioux and Wolff were in his line of sight.

Harrington drew the whistle when he closed down De Rosario, who flicked the ball in the air as the Wizards defender approached with both arms raised high, which is never a good idea for a player in his own penalty area. Harrington's left arm hit the ball with a downward motion and tweet! DeRo skied the penalty over the bar yet still TFC won, 3-2.

FCD Dallas defender Drew Moor got caught handling to provide Brian McBride the opportunity to drill home Chicago's second goal, which he did, in a 3-1 Fire win. It was a rough day for the FCD back line; errors by Steve Purdy enabled Chicago score its first and third goals, and Moor's right arm blocked the ball after Justin Mapp had short-hopped it with his first touch.

It was a bang-bang play, as Moor was marking closely as Mapp trapped the ball and Mapp's arms were close to his side, not upraised or extended wide. FCD endured a tough day, as it hit the woodwork twice with shots, either one of which would have tied the match, 2-2, after McBride's penalty broke a 1-1 tie.

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