[MLS REF WATCH] Three incidents from last weekend’s MLS action and one last subplot to the bizarre Jaime Moreno goal from earlier in the season are featured in this week's analysis of what MLS referees did right or wrong. ...
NOT OFFSIDE. Chris Wondolowski snuck in behind the Revs back line to run onto a ball from Ryan Johnson and score the Quakes’ first goal in their 2-0 win Saturday.
As Johnson dribbled toward the penalty area and the Revs’ back line dropped, Wondolowski held his run and was even with defender Darrius Barnes when the ball was played to him. Right back Kevin Allston was also in line with Barnes, who could have played Wondolowski offside by holding his line prior to the ball being passed by Johnson. Barnes raised his arm in an offside appeal, but he’d backtracked just far enough for Wondolowski to be level. It was a close decision but referee’s assistant Said Ravenfar got it right.
The Revs also thought Chris Tierney had been fouled when he and Joey Gjertsen went for a 50-50 ball in the middle third prior to the goal. Gjertsen’s solid tackle upended Tierney as he won the ball before passing to Johnson.
BAD THROW. Seattle scored a stoppage-time winner against Kansas City in its 1-0 win when Michael Fucito ran onto a Brad Evans throw-in to stick a shot past keeper Jimmy Nielsen. A thunderous roar greeted the first MLS goal by Fucito, but it should have been disallowed.
Evans had taken the throw a good 10 yards farther up the right sideline from where the ball had been headed out of play. As the ball sailed over the Sounders’ bench, Evans ran up the sideline well past the bench to receive another ball and toss it behind the Kansas City back line for Fucito to drill into the net.
Sounders commentator Arlo White correctly reminded viewers that Fucito, who was behind the defenders when Evans threw the ball in, can’t be offside on a throw-in. He made no mention of what should have been ruled a foul throw, and neither referee Jair Marrufo or nor referee’s assistant Thomas Supple took any action.
“The referee needs to be aware of where that ball went out and especially at that time of the game in the attacking third,” U.S. Socccer director of referee development Paul Tamberino said to mlssoccer.com. “The referee needs to take the lead there. The assistant referee knows that in the waning seconds of the game his focus needs to be on where that second to last defender is. So the onus comes on the referee.”
NO RED. Once again, the issue of why goalkeepers are rarely given red cards for fouls that deny a clear goalscoring opportunity if a penalty kick is called has come up again.
Rapids goalie Matt Pickens wiped out Sam Cronin in the box without getting the ball, and referee Ricardo Salazar promptly pointed to the spot but didn’t produce a card. Referees have been very inconsistent about sending off players who commit such fouls if they occur in the penalty area, not just goalkeepers, and FIFA is scheduled to review this interpretation next month. Even though it is not specifically spelled out in the rules, if a penalty kick is awarded, referees often caution the offender rather than eject him.
“For this particular case, a yellow works here,” Tamberino said. “We didn’t want any more than a yellow card. We didn’t think it was excessive force. It was definitely reckless.”
SEITZ, FINAL CUT. There’s been some spirited discussion of the Chris Seitz-Jaime Moreno incident during week 3, when Moreno’s harassment of Seitz as he prepared to kick a ball dropped from his hands instead yielded to a steal of the ball and a very embarrassing goal. Colleague Paul Gardner and I both wrote of the incident and Tamberino’s judgment that the goal should not have been allowed. Readers weighed in, most of whom agreed with Tamberino.
Goalies are given some leeway by the referees partially so there won’t be delays while they hold the ball – they are limited to six seconds – but also so they can pay attention to opponents that may be lurking until they’re ready to get rid of the ball, then concentrate on their kick or throw.
I won’t re-revisit the Seitz-Moreno contretemps except to take note of a reader who disagreed with my reference that Seitz “erred” on the play, as he did the following week by fumbling a free kick and letting it slip into the net. Regardless of referee Terry Vaughn’s decision in the Moreno incident, Seitz’s error was to be distracted by Moreno’s antics, and not simply drop-kick the ball as he intended.
If he booms it upfield and no whistle is blown, he has accomplished what he set out to do and play continues. If he boots it and Vaughn does discipline Moreno, so be it. If Moreno carries through on his “feint” and actually blocks the kick, he’s punished for the foul and might have been cautioned.