The New York Red Bulls rallied to beat NYCFC, 2-1, in
Sunday's Hudson River Derby, the first meeting of MLS's two New York teams.
The winning goal was scored by Daniel Royer, whose second goal of the game followed a quick throw-in the 60th minute, and had an immediate impact in the standings, pushing the Red Bulls from sixth to third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
But the controversy over the throw-in call -- or more important, to change the call from a corner kick to throw-in -- will go down in MLS lore.
What was all the fuss? Assistant referee Corey Rockwell pointed his flag downward toward the corner flag, the signal for a corner kick, after an NYCFC clearance. Referee Alan Kelly changed the call, ruling it was a throw-in. The problem: that message never got to NYCFC players, who switched off, thinking they needed to set up for a corner kick.
But the Red Bulls’ Marc Rzatkowski picked up the ball and took a throw-in, playing the ball to Cristian Casseres Jr., who crossed it into the box, where Royer headed it beyond goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Johnson went nuts, arguing with referee Alan Kelly that he and his teammates had believed it was a corner
“To be honest, I thought there was no way they were going to let the goal be counted," Johnson said. "It’s obvious to us players, we have these meetings with referees and the league before to talk about decisions that are made in a game. We, as players, saw the AR point down [that] the ball went out for a corner kick with his flag first. Then, the player asks the referee is [it] a corner kick and he points down with his left hand, ‘Yes, corner.’ OK, then you see players turning back to walk toward our goal to set up for a corner kick. They grab the ball. None of their players are near the corner flag. They grab the ball, they play short, they serve the ball in, they score a goal. And then I sprint to the assistant referee and asked ‘What was that,’ and silence. There’s no explanation, he talks to the head referee and they talk and discuss it for I don’t know how long they discuss it and then they say, ‘Oh, it’s a goal.’ For us as players, it’s inexcusable.”
NYCFC coach Dome Torrent was so upset he has to twice be restrained by his own players from trying to confront Kelly.
“I said, ‘You made a mistake, and you know that’,” said Torrent. “He decided the game. I said to him ‘You decided the game and you know that. You decided the game. You are not brave, you decided the game.’ What is the reason why? Maybe he made a mistake, and it’s not a corner. I accept that. But when you say corner, two, three seconds and tell my player it’s a corner, it’s a mistake.”
Pool report. Kelly's explanation of what happened, in response to questions of the MLS-mandated pool reporter, painted a slightly different picture ...
Question: Why wasn’t a corner kick given when the AR pointed to the corner flag?
“The referee overruled the AR because the referee was in a better position to judge that the ball went out for a throw-in.”
Question: Did anyone make a “throw-in motion” if AR’s call was overturned?
No “throw-in” motion was made, and would not normally be made.
Question: Was that clearly indicated to NYCFC? Was it reviewed by VAR?
“The referee indicated verbally that the restart was a throw-in. Corner kick vs. throw-in decisions are not review-able by the VAR.”
Photo: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports