Major League Soccer – Week 2
The Situation: Vancouver at Philadelphia with the score tied 1-1 in the 28th minute of play.
The Play: A Vancouver player dribbles towards the top of the penalty area where a Portland defender lunges at the ball with a tackle and brings down the attacking player.
The Decision: The referee does not call a foul and play continues.
My Take: The referee needs to whistle for the foul and show a yellow card for the reckless challenge. The Philadelphia defender comes into the challenge with disregard for the dangerous nature of the tackle. As stated in Law 12 (see below) a direct free kick is awarded when the referee considers a tackle to be careless, reckless or using excessive force and a player should be shown a yellow card when playing in a reckless manner.
The Laws of the Game: Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) explains that reckless means that a player has acted with complete disregard to the danger to, or consequences, for the opponent. A player who plays in a reckless manner must be cautioned.
The Situation: Toronto is leading Portland 1-0 at home in the 16th minute.
The Play: After a clearance, the ball is deflected towards the right side of the penalty area. A player from Portland chases the ball down and attempts to play in a cross, but is tackled by a Toronto defender.
The Decision: The referee calls for the foul and awards Portland a direct free kick outside the penalty area.
My Take: The referee makes the correct call by awarding the direct free kick but should also issue a red card to the Toronto defender due to the player tackling with excessive force. The defender leaves his feet and tackles with his leg fully extended. This type of challenge clearly endangers the safety of the Portland player. As stated in Law 12 (see below) a player should be sent off when tackling while using excessive force.
The Laws of the Game: Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct) dictates that using excessive force means that a player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring the opponent. A player who uses excessive force must be sent off.
Michael Kennedy is a current MLS referee and has officiates 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.