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Tricky calls for refs on goals
by Ridge Mahoney, April 13th, 2010 2:21AM

TAGS:  mls, referees


[MLS] Of the 26 goals scored last Saturday in the third week of MLS play, the two mostly hotly contested were those involving a goalkeeper gaffe and a mano-a-mano handball. Did the refs get it right?

UNSIGHTLY SEITZ. Jaime Moreno briefly tied the Union-D.C. United match when he picked the pocket of Philly goalkeeper Chris Seitz, who lost the ball to Moreno when he dropped it at the edge of the penalty area, and sat on the ground in anguish as Moreno rolled an equalizer into the empty net.

Seitz had caught the ball and carried to the edge of the penalty area, then dropped it as a prelude, apparently, to drop-kicking it upfield. As the ball dropped, Moreno lifted his foot as if to block the kick, and as Seitz hesitated, Moreno controlled it, deked Seitz to the ground, and scored.

According to U.S. Soccer Director of Referee Development, Paul Tamberino, the goal shouled not have been allowed. “By law there can be no interference, no fakes, no head attempts, nothing that interferes with the goalkeeper’s ability to release the ball within the six or seven seconds,” Tamberino said to “The goalkeeper needs to be free of interference and he can do whatever he wants in those six to seven seconds.”

Once they gain control of the ball and, if standing, recover their balance, goalkeepers may hold the ball for those few seconds and then must either play it with their feet or throw it. The referee is empowered to discipline players attempting to block or impede a goalkeeper as he kicks or throws the ball.

The rules also prohibit a player from kicking the ball out of the air once it leaves the goalkeeper’s grasp – but before it hits the ground -- as the goalie prepares to kick or dribble it. In a drop-kick, the ball is kicked just after it bounces up off the ground, and Moreno's faked block apparently distracted Seitz.

However, Moreno's action occurred as the ball hit the ground, after Seitz had released it. Technically, he didn't interfere with the keeper's release of the ball, though Moreno did affect Seitz's efforts to play the ball once it was out of his grasp.

DALLAS DRAMA. Crew coaches and players protested furiously after Eric Avila hit a low blast in stoppage time to tie their game, 2-2. They objected first to a ruling by referee Jason Anno that Avila had been tripped by Emmanuel Ekpo a few yards outside the penalty area, and went completely bonkers a few seconds later when the ball fell to Avila off his right arm after he contested a partial clearance with Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and he drilled a shot off the inside of the post. Danny O’Rourke’s bitter comments earned him a red card.

Replays clearly showed the ball striking Avila’s arm but FIFA instructs referees to consider reaction time and distances when they make rulings on handballs in situations of rebounds and deflections. The ball hit Avila’s arm as he challenged Schelotto for possession of Emilio Renteria’s clearance. If Avila did react to the carom and intentionally played it the ball with his arm, he did so in the blink of an eye. Yet did the arm come forward intentionally to bat the ball as it came off Schelotto’s left foot, or was the movement incidental to his attempt to win the ball? Only Avila knows for sure if he did it on purpose.

Crew coach Robert Warzycha also criticized the officials for not punishing Atiba Harris, whose flailing hand, apparently inadvertently, split Eddie Gaven’s lower lip so badly that the gushing blood forced him out of the game. Warzycha wanted a caution, at least, yet the officials either missed or ignored the incident, since no foul was called.

On the plus side, Anno swiftly and correctly pointed to the penalty spot when George John wrestled Crew defender Chad Marshall to the ground as they scrapped for a corner kick. Players jostle and grab and push all the time on corners, but on this occasion John simply grabbed and plowed over Marshall from behind as the ball came within range.

  1. Rich Perry
    commented on: April 13, 2010 at 9:12 a.m.
    "However, Moreno's action occurred as the ball hit the ground, after Seitz had released it." That's just plain wrong. Look at the replay. Moreno starts his lunge as Seitz holds the ball in front of him, just before he lets go of it. The goal should not have been allowed. Had Moreno actually started his lunge after the ball hit the ground, I doubt Seitz would even have had time to react before he finished kicking the ball, considering that in a drop kick, you start to swing your leg before the ball strikes the ground.

  1. Chuck Rob
    commented on: April 13, 2010 at 10:04 a.m.
    As a goalkeeper myself (and a rule of thumb for any keeper)you NEVER handle the ball or attempt to release it unless you are sure it is safe to do so. In MY view, the keeper just goofed and had to pay for it. Moreno is a very experienced player and he has done something similar before in his career.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: April 13, 2010 at 10:23 a.m.
    Ridge, you forget to mention the everpresent turnovers which dominate each MLS contest...and for the keeper-gaffers, high school keepers are better.

  1. Rich Perry
    commented on: April 13, 2010 at 10:57 a.m.
    Chuck, I'm curious what you think Seitz should have done, waited for Moreno to walk away, no matter how long it took? Judging by how the ref blew the call on the ensuing play, had Seitz waited, perhaps the ref might have carded him for time wasting. The forward was stationary when the keeper started his motion. The fact is, Moreno committed foul play, and it should have been called. I don't understand why nobody thinks this matters.

  1. Mike Crump
    commented on: April 13, 2010 at 5:11 p.m.
    I tend to agree with Rich... Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct), which governs this matter, tells us: “....if, in the opinion of the referee, a player prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands.” The interference can either be physical or mental in nature. Lunging or movement like Moreno's could easily be determined as interference.

  1. Kenneth Barr
    commented on: April 13, 2010 at 5:34 p.m.
    It is probably time for anothe Letter of Instruction to match officials concerning goalkeeper interference. The mere act of releasing the ball does not constitute a clearance. By rule, the ball can't be touched by an opponent until the keeper plays it forward. That is, throws or kicks it forward. If Seitz had dribbled it, then Moreno has a right to play it (see Steve Hunt/Tony Chursky in the 1977 NASL title match). In this case, the keeper was attempting a kicked clearance, either in the full or half volley. He must be allowed to complete that clearance. Had Moreno blocked the kicked clearance, he would have been legal.

  1. Dennis Oconnell
    commented on: April 13, 2010 at 8:57 p.m.
    I am glad someone is finally talking about this one! I was at the game live and it was very, very obvious that Moreno was impeding the goalkeeper. He made headfakes and then blatently moved toward Seitz when the ball was being played by the keeper. I thought for sure the ref was running over to yellow card Moreno and disallow the goal. Unfortunately, the ref must not have seen it (I saw him run with his back to play on a number of goal kick opportunities and such) and probably relied on Seitz reaction to make his non-call (which instead of being upset and in the refs face was one of being dumbstruck and running back to the goal to retrieve the ball). Bad all the way around. Bad by Moreno, bad by the ref, bad by Seitz for not even knowing the rules himself.

  1. Marc Satterly
    commented on: April 14, 2010 at 7:22 p.m.
    Please put the responsibility where it belongs, the assistant referee. He must watch for infractions on these types of plays while the referee heads up field and watches the players in the vicinity of the anticipated clearance.

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