I’m sorry, I’m not one to typically question the foul recognition skills of a referee who has centered a World Cup match, but after listening to Brian Hall on the Week in Review podcast for Week 1, reading the comments in the text, and then watching the video clips, I guess I need some clarification here.

In the evaluation of the Kjelstan foul, Hall writes:

“The leg is down toward the ground and not aimed over the top of the ball. If the cleats were to go over the ball and direct contact made with the opponent’s leg, the tackle could be considered serious foul play.”

I’ve attached two screen captures from the replay of this foul by Kjelstan. [Editor’s Note: Screen shots not included here.] Color me crazy, but both of these screen shots show Kjelstan clearly going over the top of the ball, studs exposed, foot off the ground and making direct contact with force into Kamara’s ankle. Personally, I would say this is a send-off challenge, as it appears to fit the exact description that Mr. Hall uses in his comments to describe serious foul play.

If I’m wrong about this, by all means I have no issue with being told so and why. I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of working a game at the level of MLS or have the experience necessary to differentiate minor differences in what might define a send-off at that level as compared to a U16 match. I guess I would, however, like some clarification on the comments made that defined this as a caution rather than a send-off.

USSF answer (April 13, 2009):
Screen shots can be deceptive, but U.S. Soccer made the decision that the challenge was only a yellow card by reviewing the play at full speed as well as the replays. In both cases, it was felt that the player committing the foul made contact with the ball and not with the opponent. In the run of play, this is what the referee also saw. As stated, if contact was not made directly with the ball, the referee would be well within his rights to issue a red card for serious foul play. This is not an easy decision and is one of inches. Every decision made must be considered in context. If a similar challenge occurs in an U16 match, the referee can use his/her judgment in deciding whether the challenge meets the criteria for a red card.

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