Wednesday 4 April 2012

Able Referee Assistants Must Assist Ably Part 2

The observations here are linked to the previous post about ARs in the MLS, and the impressions raised by some high-profile errors.

The following two incidents occurred during the MLS match between Portland and Real Salt Lake on Saturday 31 March 2012. The match finished 2—3.

Incident One Wait and See Principle Applies Not Just To Offside

In the 18', from a Portland (white) throw-in the ball bounces into RSL's half. Here are the freeze frames:
Yes, there is a push in the back on a Portland defender (white) by an RSL defender (red) but the ball carries on forward

Portland coach obviously not happy with the decision

AR1 is in a great position to spot this foul, but that should not be the only thing he should be focusing on

Because AR1 immediately flagged for a foul—coupled with the simultaneous fact that Referee Jorge Gonzalez was perhaps not in tune with the unfolding situation—the opportunity to play advantage was lost.

Furthermore there was no 'wiggle' so when AR1 raised the flag straight up, on first take, it wasn't immediately clear what was being signalled (i.e. a foul, an offside?).

Incident Two Handball Inside the Penalty Area

In the 38', Portland defender Rodney Wallace (white 22) handles the ball in the penalty area. Here are the freeze frames:
It is handball inside the penalty area and the Referee must also consider whether the situation warrants a red card for DOGSO

Following the Referee's penalty call (who called it, the R or AR2?), RSL midfielder Javier Morales (red 11) approaches the Referee and vehemently demands a send off. This is unsporting behaviour and may actually have an unintended effect in that it distracts the Referee from correctly applying the Laws.

In the end, Referee Gonzales only cautioned Portland's Wallace for deliberate handball, instead of showing a red card for DOGSO. Did AR2 assist the Referee ably?

Incident Three Gaining an Advantage From Being in an Offside Position

The following incident occurred during the MLS match between New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact on Saturday 31 March 2012. The match finished 5—2.

In the 89', a New York player (white) shoots at goal and the Montreal goalkeeper fumbles the save allowing Red Bull's Thierry Henry to score his hat-trick. Here are the freeze frames:

Just as Incident One in the previous post, an attacker (here, Thierry Henry) gained an advantage from being in an offside position and subsequently scored.


In watching some recent MLS highlights, the initial impression is that ARs need to be trained and encouraged at least as much as Referees. While MLS Referees will benefit from initiatives like PRO in North America (in a similar way as EPL Referees benefit from the setting up of PGMOL), training and development of ARs in the professional leagues of North America should not be overlooked. Initiatives to help ARs must also be set up and be in synch with the demands of the modern game.

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