This is a very important point that creates a lot of confusion amongst the players, coaches and referees:
• A team that was behind in a game scores and all the sudden sense a comeback. A player from the team that just scored; rushes to the net to grab the ball to bring it as fast as possible to the center. The goalie (who just got scored on) grabs the ball from the opponent since it is “his team possession” (kickoff after being scored on).
• I believe that the team who got scored on has the right to bring the ball to the center in a timely matter as long as there are no signs of wasting time.
• We see this incidence over and over in professional soccer. One time, there was a game between Arsenal (ARS) & New Castle (NC) where NC was down 4:0 and as soon as they scored, the goal scorer ran to the net to grab the ball so the ARS goalie blocked him and went to grab it himself. The referee ended up cautioning ARS goalie as he considered him wasting time. Of course, when the goalie rushed to the net to grab the ball, he was pushed by the opponent player (who got away from a card).

My question here: What is the proper approach/call that the referee must take in such a situation? I am sure this is a common situation in U13 & up games especially for high flighted games.

USSF answer (April 5, 2011):
Your logic would seem to be correct. The ball actually “belongs” to the team scored against, as they must kick off. If the referee detects delaying or timewasting tactics in this process, he or she is empowered by Law 7 to add time to make up for that which was lost.

The following answer was published on January 23, 2010. It includes the reasoning and suggestions for what the referee should do in such cases.

After the referee has stopped play for a goal, the ball, although “dead” until play is restarted with a kick-off, does belong to the team against which the goal was scored. Traditionally the ball is carried back to the center spot by the team against which the goal was scored (Red). A player who provokes confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play may be cautioned for delaying the restart of play. (See Law 12, “Delaying the restart of play,” in the Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees in the back of the Laws of the Game 2009/2010.) This would be the case of the player from the scoring team (B) who was interfering with the Team A player carrying the ball to the center of the field.

The team which has possession (Red) may “allow” the opposing team to hold/transfer/carry/etc. the ball by acceding to the action (i. e., not disputing it). However, the opposing team does this at its peril. In your game, Blue, perhaps believing that Red was moving too slowly to carry the ball back to the center circle for the kick-off, tried to take the ball that “belonged” to Team Red. Blue has no right at any time to request that the ball be given over to it (including such childish behavior as attempting to grab the ball or punch the ball out of the Red player’s control.

Rather than immediately cautioning either player, the true owner (against whose team the goal was scored) and the “wannabe” owner (whose team will be defending at the kick-off), it would be better if you simply spoke quickly to both players, admonishing the wannabe owner to leave the ball alone. You could also tell the player that you will judge whether there is any “delay” in getting the ball back to the center spot and will, if necessary, add time to make up for any time lost.

There is little reason to immediately caution either player if you do what we suggest above. In any event, the possibility of a caution would depend on HOW the Blue player attempts to gain possession (i. e., how aggressively, how prolonged, etc.). We cannot see how the mere fact of attempting to gain possession is itself cautionable.

The critical fact that makes the player’s action cautionable is that his attempt to retrieve the ball caused a tussle with the true “owner” of the ball, the GK. If this hadn’t been inserted into the scenario, then the referee could well have ignored the whole thing . . . because there would in fact have been no delay.