There was a bit of a flareup after last week’s loss to Seattle Sounders — and not around the loss or any of that, but from New York Red Bulls fans who felt aggrieved that Yura Movsisyan wasn’t shown a yellow after RSL’s single goal of the game.
In 2014, Bradley Wright Phillips was shown a suspension-inducing yellow card for challenging a goalkeeper on a throw. Once a Metro has a good writeup on this very occurrence, and they outline their position on Movsisyan’s challenge.
First, though, let’s go to the PRO article and see what they say.
In this case Frei does release the ball from his hands and Movsisyan does not prevent him from doing this. At the time Frei releases the ball, Movsisyan is not standing in front of him, he is behind him and the goalkeeper has a clear view of where he is throwing the ball. He just took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to him by intercepting the throw to his team-mate by Frei.
Pretty straightforward, right? The rule is fairly straightforward on this:
An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball with his hands.
The trouble? These plays are very similar, and Wright-Phillips’ yellow would seem to be at odds with the PRO judgment now.
It’s a hard call, certainly, and PRO didn’t do themselves any favors by taking such a strong stance on Movsisyan’s interference — they’ve left little room for error and judgment on the part of the referee. This is often the case with PRO — their position becomes clear-cut, but only after the fact, and it’s often inconsistently applied.
In my humble opinion? That’s probably not a foul — Frei’s release is lazy and ineffective, and it’s not entirely clear that Movsisyan is actually interfering with his release of the ball. But by the same token, that’s probably the case with Bradley Wright-Phillips, too.
Maybe this is best seen as an example of an “evolving” opinion from PRO, but they would do well in their opinion pieces to recognize that is and can be the case. Otherwise, we’re left in a position where we’re still left wondering whether an opinion matters from year-to-year. Is there any intended continuity, or are we instead grasping for something we shouldn’t expect?
Some clarity would be useful.
In the meantime, let’s all just take a moment to laugh at Stefan Frei. Foul or not, he’s made a very bad decision here, and it’s delightful. (Also, we lost. Don’t be too happy.)