An encroachment call cost the New York Red Bulls their postseason run last year and has come back to haunt them just two games into this season.
A sleep-walking Roy Miller plodded his way into the box like a character out of a George Romero movie, nearly keeping pace with shot taker Chris Wondolowski. The MLS goal-scoring king’s attempt was denied by Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles but called back due to Miller’s mind-lapse.
Wondolowski would not miss twice.
The stunning run of events was a throw back to last year’s encounter against DC United where a Kenny Cooper goal was called back due to Thierry Henry’s eager venture into the box.
For one, Dax McCarty has had it. Though he doesn’t dispute the call itself, the outspoken Red Bulls’ midfielder attacked the oft-ignored rule and it’s enforcement after the match.
“If you want me to be completely honest, every single time a penalty kick happens, if you want to go by the letter of the law, there is a guy that is stepping into the box every single time before a penalty kick is taken,” he said. “It’s however the ref is feeling on the day.”
McCarty isn’t excusing Miller’s transgression; quite the contrary. “I don’t want to point the finger at anyone. It was a little bit unlucky and a little bit of a mental breakdown. It happened in the playoffs last year. The refs are calling it a little bit tighter,” he concedes.
“I haven’t seen the replay. I don’t know how far in (Miller) was or what the situation was, but at the end of the day, the refs have to be the judge of what they think is aggressive encroachment. If they are going to call it, they need to call it every time.”
For clarity, encroachment is called when players from either side enter the box prior to the kicker taking his penalty shot. Though Miller’s infraction was egregious, players across world football consistently enter the box prior to a kickers attempt and are not called for their transgressions.
What McCarty wants to see is some consistency in the calls.
“I don’t care if a guy has his big toe in the box,” he said. “If they are going to call it by the letter of the law, they better have some consistency. That’s all we hope.
“We can’t make excuses. If he is in the box, he is in the box. We just want to see consistency on every single penalty kick taken.”