Recently, I witnessed a U12 goal scored by working the ball in from a corner kick along the end line. Two attackers worked together to advance the ball to goal right along the endline. One of the attackers was standing on the endline if not out of bounds and received a 10 foot pass from the other attacker about 10 feet from the end line. That attacker received the ball and then passed it in front of the net for a third player to finish for a goal. To me it seemed clear that the receiving player on the endline must have been offside since the defending team did not have players on the goal line or in the net, but did have defender marking the near post. Three licensed and paid coaches later said a single defender on the goalpost, let alone 2 defenders, automatically makes the whole field onside. They also suggested that it does not matter if the goalkeeper is moved forward and that it only matters where the last non-keeper defender happens to be. I can not find any information to verify what they have said.

Please help….

USSF answer (April 20, 2011):
Coach, we strongly hope you misunderstood these “licensed and paid” coaches, because if what you remember them saying is accurate, we are all in a lot of trouble and referees working games involving these coaches and any of their players will be in for major problems when they attempt to enforce the Laws of the Game correctly.

For starters, no player can be called offside directly from a corner kick. As we read it, in your situation the critical action occurred after the corner kick had already been taken, when an attacker who was 10 feet upfield from the goal line sent a pass to a teammate who was “standing on the endline if not out of bounds.” At the moment this pass occurred: “the defending team did not have players on the goal line or in the net, but did have defender marking the near post.” Unfortunately, this accounts for only one defender. If that was indeed the only defender between the attacker and the goal line, then clearly the attacker was in an offside position and made contact with the ball when he “received a 10 foot pass,” then there was an offside infringement.

However, your situation omits the goalkeeper. Where was the goalkeeper in all of this? Certainly, if the goalkeeper was well upfield from this “defender marking the near post,” then the offside call would have been correct. If you and the “licensed and paid” coaches are simply ignoring the goalkeeper and the ‘keeper was in fact on the goal line, then the attacker was NOT in an offside position and could not be called offside.

Warning to all coaches, players, and referees: Very few coaches, no matter how many certificates they may have earned, are as well aware of the Laws of the Game as they believe themselves to be. (Unfortunately, we must admit that this sometimes applies to referees as well.)