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2011 Referee Week in Review

The ussoccer.com Referee Week in Review is designed to address the issues facing referees at all levels by using video highlights from professional games as well as the U.S. National Teams. The Referee Week in Review will highlight specific areas of focus and current U.S. Soccer initiatives designed to improve performance and aid in the development of officials across the country.

Referee Week in Review – Week 32

The Situation: D.C. United and the Portland Timbers are tied 1-1 in the 89th minute.

The Play: Late in regulation time, an attacking player pounces on a loose ball in the area and goes past the goalkeeper. With the goalkeeper in pursuit, the player crosses the ball into the goal area and his teammate heads in the apparent go-ahead goal.

The Decision: The goal is disallowed as the scorer is judged to be offside.

My Take: The video clearly shows that there are not two defenders between the attacking player who scores the goal and the opponent’s goal line when the ball is played. While the goalkeeper is normally the last defender, in this case he is clearly not in that position, and there is only one player between the attacker and the goal. The assistant referee does an outstanding job of being in the right position to view the play and correctly apply the law.

The Laws of the Game: As Law 11 indicates, an attacking player must not be nearer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last defender in order to remain onside.

The Situation: D.C. United and the Portland Timbers are tied 1-1 in the 92nd minute.

The Play: A D.C. United attacker dribbles around the goalkeeper and appears to have a wide-open goal. As he shoots, a Portland defender slides to block the shot, and the ball strikes him in the arm.

The Decision: No penalty is awarded.

My Take: In considering whether this play constitutes a deliberate handball, ask these two questions. Was the defender’s hand in a natural position? Did the defender make himself bigger in order to block the shot? As you can see, the defender’s arm is tucked into his body as he slides.  The answer to both questions is “no”, and no foul should be called. 

The Laws of the Game: The interpretations of Law 12 list the factors a referee should consider in determining if there has been a deliberate act of handling the ball.

Michael Kennedy is a current MLS referee and has officiated in the league since its founding in 1996. In addition to serving as a professional referee, he has also represented U.S. Soccer as both a FIFA referee and assistant referee.

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