Crooks Soccer Journal: MLS, NCAA and Video Review



Ted Unkel was patrolling the middle in last week’s match between the Columbus Crew FC and New York City FC. In the 86th minute, New York City reserve midfielder, Kwadwo Poku, was taken down in the box for a penalty. Consequently, Crew FC center back, Michael Parkhurst, was sent off for DOGSO (Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity) – on a foul he never committed.

Parkhurst, after missing the initial tackle on Poku, may have been closer to our broadcast location at MAPFRE Stadium than he was to the Ghanaian. Tyson Wahl, starting in place of the hamstrung Gaston Sauro, was the clear offender which was confirmed moments later on a video replay. 

David Villa converted the penalty to move City within a goal with eight more minutes to play (four minutes of stoppage time) and Columbus’ most competent defender was erroneously disqualified. Regardless, the home side held on, 3-2.

On March 5, The International Football Association Board (IFAB), which oversees the rules that govern soccer, approved a plan to experiment with video assistant referees in matches. IFAB’s release noted “the expectation is not to achieve 100 percent accuracy in decisions for every single incident, but to avoid clearly incorrect decisions.”

Unkel’s decision to book the Columbus captain was incorrect. That much is clear. Two days after the Columbus-NYCFC match, MLS rescinded the Parkhurst red card, fine and suspension and rightly held Wahl liable for the consequences (Wahl’s red card has since been overturned after an appeal by Columbus to the Independent Review Council).

A video review, sparing any affect on the flow of the match, would have rendered the proper decision by the time Villa grabbed the ball out of the net after finishing his second PK of the season.

Last summer, MLS commissioner Don Garber, pledged his support for the use of replay. Prior to the start of this 2016 campaign, video review was given global approval. Heading into week eight and with numerous “game-changing” referee mishaps, assistant replay officials remain absent from MLS matches.

MLS needed to be at the forefront of this experimentation in the states – instead, it is the NCAA breaking barriers with their adherence to the motion.

On April 12, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a proposal allowing the use of video review in men’s and women’s soccer for three specific situations; determine whether a goal has been scored, identify players for disciplinary matters and determine whether a fight occurred and identify all participants. Reviews can begin this fall.

The new rule is not required. The coaches from both sides have to agree to the use of review prior to the match. The legislation pertains to Divisions 1, 2 and 3.

“The resource level for equipment and operations at facilities varies so dramatically from schools at all three divisions, it’s going to be interesting to see how this is applied and where it is applied,” said Rob Kehoe, the Director of College Programs for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the liaison to the NCAA. “It’s not a requirement that it has to be a streamed game or a televised game. It could be the basic operation as it relates to filming the game. But if it’s going to be used for review, there has to be a quality control measure.”

The NCAA is currently addressing the protocol and will notify the member schools accordingly.

There is no such resource issue in MLS. Every match is professionally televised with multiple angles to enable clear decisions in the review process.

The IFAB and FIFA are dictating the pace and progress of video review for MLS. Staging an autonomous insertion of a fifth official is not in line with current MLS philosophy – intentional alignment with the international Laws of the Game and FIFA mandates.

Remember when the clock counted down instead of up? Or when shootouts determined a winner to avoid ties? That was the MLS experimenting with the rules without sanction by any governing body. Could MLS implement a similar self-governing stance on video review? The answer is yes but their convictions have altered since the days of the shootout. While MLS has performed testing on the product, they will await approval from IFAB before incorporating the technology into official competition.

Meanwhile, myriad judgements in 2016 have intensified the need to assist the referee through technology.

In addition to the Parkhurst debacle, there was the combative conclusion to the Orlando City-New England match and the callous Nigel de Jong tackle on Darlington Nagbe. Also, the Portland Timbers sustained fouls in three consecutive matches that were subsequently deemed red card violations by the MLS Disciplinary Review Committee.

As Portland coach Caleb Porter suggested at the time, those decisions didn’t help the Timbers who should have been playing a man up in all three contests. Video review, when it emerges, will be permitted to determine the extent of a violation and could have saved points for the MLS Cup defenders.

When will video replay be applied in MLS matches? My presumption is that more relevant information will be available in a month or so with replay utilized in MLS no earlier than the 2017 exhibition season.


  • Villa’s penalty was his 22nd in MLS – nine of those, or 41-percent, have been finished from the penalty spot.
  • Unofficially, Sauro was one of 17 MLS players who missed games due to hamstring issues. The New York Red Bulls lost three players in one match to hamstring injuries – Gideon Baah, Gonzalo Veron and Ronald Zubar limped off in the Red Bulls only win of the season on March 19 versus New England at Red Bull Arena. Zubar is the only one of the three that has been cleared to compete.
  • The NSCAA and the Red Bulls recently agreed to a multi-year partnership renewal. Through this partnership, the Red Bulls are designated as the exclusive and sole provider of regional NSCAA Coaching Academy courses throughout New York and New Jersey. “Coaching education is a key component of the extensive Red Bulls youth development systems,” said Dave Jervis, Senior Director of Training Programs. “By offering a range of easily accessible course locations, we are able to help educate and impact local grassroots coaches in youth soccer communities throughout New York and New Jersey.” The first course offered following the new agreement will be Friday, April 29 at Red Bull Arena. The NSCAA, guided by Director of Coaching, Ian Barker, will present Special Topics – Roles and Responsibilities. The course will focus on match analysis and how this important skill can aid in the development of players and teams.
  • The match to be analyzed? FC Dallas at RBNY. I plan to be a participant. This is a fantastic education opportunity with a chance to be on the sideline for pre-game and evaluate a professional match with motivated coaches. For more information, contact

    For more from Glenn Crooks, visit and listen to his weekly show, The Coaching Academy, every Wednesday on SiriusXM FC.

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  • Robert Newsom

    The article says, “Two days after the Columbus-NYCFC match, MLS rescinded the Parkhurst red card, fine and suspension and rightly held Wahl liable for the consequences (Wahl’s red card has since been overturned after an appeal by Columbus to the Independent Review Council).” Wahl was rightly held liable? Then why was the red card rescinded? Answer: because there never was any foul at all. Wahl got the ball and kicked it away from Paku. The subsequent contact was 50-50 knee-to-knee and by then the ball was way out of Paku’s reach.

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