New York Red Bull keeper Luis Robles handled an over-shot feed in the box and looked upfield for an outlet.
Fifteen seconds later, referee Chris Penso jogged up to the keeper and pointed to a spot just inside the box.
Without warning, Robles had been called for time wasting, and the Union were awarded an indirect free kick some 16 yards from goal. The rare call surprised both players and spectators — especially in the context of this friendly preseason encounter. However, Robles did exceed his six-second allotment and the Union did their duty, equalizing on the strange opportunity.
“It was interesting call that got them their goal, but that is par for the course,” head coach Mike Petke said.
The clearly incredulous coach was still baffled by the entire scenario in his post game commentary. Penso explained the reason for the call quite clearly after the match.
“He said it’s an MLS initiative this year to crack down on goalkeepers taking too long,” Petke explained. “Instead of giving him a warning, they took it really literal and called it right away and gave them a free kick.”
Asked if he had ever seen a situation where a referee called a delay without warning, the Red Bull boss simply quipped “never.” However, this is not the first time seldom-enforced rules came back to haunt New York. Infringement became a major issue in the 2012 playoffs with a goal called back after Thierry Henry rushed the box prior to a Kenny Cooper penalty strike. Cooper’s ensuing attempt was infamously blocked.