There has been a great deal of debate on some web forums regarding the Red Bull New York v. Houston Dynamo game last Saturday. (4/21/07)From the wing, a player crossed the ball square into the area clearly on target to 2, unmarked, wide open strikers about 7-8 yards from goal. A player on Houston jumped up, while in the area, and grabbed the ball deliberately with 2 hands fouling up a certain goal scoring opportunity.
The debate has been whether or not he should have seen red, under UEFA standards he easily could have been, according to my understanding of USSF rules, he didn’t meet all of the so called “4 D’s” since the cross was definitively heading towards goal but rather square to goal.
Is this a proper reading of USSF standards or could the Houston player, in fact, have been shown red?
USSF answer (April 30, 2007):
We did not see the game and cannot tell from your description whether or not the conditions for denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, and thus for sending off the evildoer, were met.
There is already a send-off offense for deliberate handling, number 4 under the seven send-off offenses: denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area). It does not require any particular alignment of players for either team, but simply the occurrence of the offense.
In your description of the incident, you appear to be applying criteria which are involved in a red card for offense #5, when in fact what occurred was offense #4. The “4 Ds” memo is specific in its terms — it is talking about offense #5 in connection with these conditions. The general rule of thumb in #4 violations is that the red card is justified only if (in the opinion of the referee), but for the handling offense (in this case, by the goalkeeper outside his PA), the ball would have gone into the net.
In addition, the terms of the USSF position paper of September 16, 2002, on “Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity Denied (The 4 Ds)” do not include any reason for a gratuitous caution for unsporting behavior where it is not merited. Nor is this true of any other document dealing with the correct application of the Laws of the Game.
The defender should have been cautioned for unsporting behavior (commission of a tactical foul that broke up attacking play), not for handling to prevent a goal, and play restarted with a penalty kick as the offense occurred inside the defender’s penalty area.
Please, let common sense prevail in the web fora.