[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 mlssoccer.com. “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.