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2011 Referee Week in Review - Week 5



Referee Week in Review – Week 5

The Situation: Colorado and Real Salt Lake are tied 0-0 in the 93rd minute.

The Play: With time winding down, Real Salt Lake is awarded a free kick outside the Colorado penalty area.  The free kick is played in and rebounds off the goal post to a Real Salt Lake attacker who plays the ball towards goal.  A second attacking player beats out the trailing defenders and goalkeeper to put the ball in the back of the goal. 

The Decision: A goal is awarded to Real Salt Lake, who go on to win the game 1-0.

My Take: Consider where the attacking players are when the initial shot was taken and goes off the post. The attacker who played the rebound was in an onside position at that moment the free kick was taken, and the referee correctly allows play to continue. In the next instant, the attacking player directs the rebound towards goal, and we see the second attacker become incolved in active play and score from an offside position; therefore, the goal should have been disallowed.

The Laws of the Game:  Law 11 (Offside) states that a player is in an offside position when they are nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second to last defender.   A player is only penalized for being in an offside position if, in the opinion of the referee, are involved in active play by: interfering with play, interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being offside. 


The Situation: Columbus is leading Kansas City 1-0 and is up a man in the 80th minute.

The Play: Columbus serves in a corner kick to the far post.  Players from both teams challenge for the ball and multiple players go down in the penalty area.  The referee awards a free to Kansas City and the players begin to confront one another after the whistle.  

The Decision: The referee separates both players from the confrontation and no sanction is issued.

My Take: As the two players begin to confront each other, the referee does a great job of recognizing that a potential situation is developing and quickly moves to diffuse the situation. By placing himself between the two players and continuing to keep them separated as they move up the field, he allows the emotions of the moment to dissipate and for the players to refocus on continuing play.

The Laws of the Game: A critical part of the job for any referee is man management. The ability of the referee to prevent situations between players from escalating and to recognize when their presence is needed is important to help maintain a calm atmosphere. This also can prevent the referee from being forced to issue cautions which can become a significant factor in any game.


The Situation: Portland’s home-opening match against Chicago Fire is tied 0-0 in the 11th minute. 

The Play: A corner kick is served into the penalty area and a Portland attacker heads the ball past the goalkeeper.  The assistant referee signals that after the corner kick is taken the ball leaves the field of play and re-enters.

The Decision: The referee blows the whistle to disallow the goal.

My Take: For those watching at home and even for the players on the field, there was initial confusion as to why the goal was being disallowed. The assistant referee is in an excellent position and has the best view of anyone on the field to make the call. Later, the referee indicates both verbally and with an arm motion which call has been made. He recognized the need to clarify the call and effectively communicated to the players and coaches so they would understand the decision.

Laws of the Game:  Law 9 (The ball in and out of play) states that the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch whether on the ground or in the air.


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.

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