Jul 13, 2013, 9:48 AM EST
The backpass rule in soccer, implemented in the early 1990s to pep up the tempo of matches, is an example of where high-level legislation has definitely improved the sport. And as instances where players attempt to skirt this rule are rare, so are the whistles for alleged violations.
In most cases, defending players get the benefit of the doubt when balls come off their foot and finish in the goalkeeper’s hands, and that’s certainly the correct approach.
So why in the world referee Jorge Gonzalez would choose this moment last night in Chester, Penn., to issue the rare, indirect free kick just 8-9 yards from goal, only he could say.
But Gonzalez did, in fact, whistle for a violation of the backpass rule as Chivas USA eventually fell to Philadelphia, 3-1. Worse yet, it was late in a 1-1 match, when referees are obliged to be quite sure of any decisions that will turn a match … as this one surely did.
Watch below as Chivas USA defender Edgar Mejia slides (almost lunges, really) to challenge Philadelphia’s Conor Casey on a 50-50 ball near Chivas USA goal. The ball bounces fortuitously to goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who surely thinks nothing of picking up the slick thing.
Why would he? Who could possibly think that Mejia was actually attempting such a dicey gambit, sliding in on rain-soaked turf to play a cheeky little ball to his ‘keeper while under a serious challenge from a notorious tough tackler? It’s almost unthinkable.
Who might think so? I’ll tell you who … Jorge Gonzalez. (Ironically, this is the same referee who had a very bad day at PPL Park back in May, after which Philly manager John Hackworth had some quite candid comments on the man in the middle.)
Chivas players were so incensed that Josue Soto bumped Gonzalez and was issued a second yellow card, leaving Chivas to face the wet music a man down. A 1-1 match devolved quickly into a 3-1 loss; Philadelphia scored on the ensuing free kick and then got another late, insurance goal.
Watch the sequence in question below and see if you can spot any reason at all to make this unusual, controversial call at this time. I watched it over and over hoping to give Gonzalez a break … but I just don’t think he deserves one.
What makes this decision so egregiously awful is this: hand balls in the penalty area or balls that do/don’t cross the goal line can be missed. Those are down to angles and sight lines and sometimes involve quick calculations of intent.
In this case, Friday at PPL Park, it’s really such an easy sequence to legislate. If Gonzalez does nothing – that is, errs toward caution on making such an important call – everybody plays on. Nobody today would talk about this, because there would be absolutely nothing to discuss.
It really was a bad, bad moment for MLS refereeing.
Dec 18, 2013, 6:09 PM EST
City, United are on opposite sides of the bracket for January’s semifinals.
Dec 18, 2013, 5:30 PM EST
A rocket from Ashley Young broke a second half stalemate and moved the Red Devils into the League Cup’s last four.
Dec 18, 2013, 4:59 PM EST
Tim Sherwood’s debut as caretaker for Spurs ends in disappointment as West Ham come back at White Hate Lane.
Dec 18, 2013, 4:35 PM EST
A late penalty kick sends the host nation’s representatives on to face Bayern Munich.
Dec 18, 2013, 4:04 PM EST
The former league MVP may get a second go in his hometown:
Dec 18, 2013, 3:28 PM EST
Coming off that awful season, United makes the New York Red Bulls’ striker the first pick of Wednesday’s Stage Two Re-entry draft:
Dec 18, 2013, 2:50 PM EST
If Brek Shea cannot get into Mark Hughes’ lineup or on his bench for the this competition … :
Dec 18, 2013, 2:31 PM EST
Saints’ hot-headed striker in hot water, after sideline scuffle brings FA charge his way:
Dec 18, 2013, 2:10 PM EST
An in-depth look at the land-locked region where intense rivalries burn brightly, while industry, fandom and history unite:
Dec 18, 2013, 12:15 PM EST
With a massive opportunity to impress, here’s how Spurs’ interim boss can stick around:
Dec 18, 2013, 11:03 AM EST
Impact hand reigns to ex-Chicago Fire boss, as Klopas signs three-year deal:
Dec 18, 2013, 10:35 AM EST
Top Spanish sides investigated as “irregular public funding” is alleged by EU. Do new Financial Fair Play rules have anything to do with this?
Dec 18, 2013, 10:00 AM EST
After another defeat, the ‘Special One’ bemoans Chelsea’s lack of ruthlessness:
Dec 18, 2013, 9:15 AM EST
De Rosario, Ruiz and Ferreira all up for grabs. Plus plenty of other gems available:
Dec 18, 2013, 8:32 AM EST
After everything, Becks’ love for United remains. And the ex-MLS star sees a bright future ahead for United:
Dec 18, 2013, 7:43 AM EST
Were Spurs’ players 100 percent behind AVB? Apparently so…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:02 PM EST
Rounding up the smaller bits of news and other happenings around Major League Soccer:
Dec 17, 2013, 10:14 PM EST
Today’s news moves us one painful step closer to an awful, perhaps inevitable, destination:
Dec 17, 2013, 9:10 PM EST
And what a smart move that is from the current LA Galaxy assistant:
Dec 17, 2013, 8:28 PM EST
At this point, the big surprise would be if Clint Dempsey did not go on loan in January.
- Young’s blast, Evra’s insurance see Manchester United into League Cup semifinals 0
- Late Jarvis, Maiga goals see West Ham past Tottenham, into League Cup semifinals 0
- Welcome to the Midlands: A trip to the heartland of English soccer 1
- Frank Klopas named Montreal Impact head coach 2
- Real Madrid, Barcelona under investigation from EU 1
- Brad Friedel: Tottenham players backed Andre Villas-Boas 1
- Voting on the U.S. national team all-time Best XI (19)
- U.S. national team discussion: The Alejandro Bedoya conundrum (18)
- Shouldn’t Peter Vermes be in the future U.S. national team coaching discussions? (17)
- NYCFC’s new stadium could be neighbor to Yankee Stadium (12)
- Tottenham is using blood spinning treatment on its players, and nobody seems to know if it’s doping (12)
- Hodgson's Manaus Plan is Flawed
- Wilmer Cabrera on WC Draw: ''It's an Even Group''
- Germany Building Training Facility in Brazil
- Spain Thinking of US Camp Before World Cup
- Don't count out Chile in WC Group B
- Kicking it Off with a Final
- VIDEO: Visa World Cup Promo
- Aurelien Collin: I Think France is Very Very Happy
- Klinsmann Shouldn't Have Been Re-signed Before WC
- You Can't Beat German Sachlichkeit