For years, US Soccer has issued position papers related to the Laws of the Game and things referees should be doing or looking for and highlighting ‘tough call’ scenarios. With the advent of online video, they have started to include YouTube videos as part of the papers which show the situations being discussed. Very cool.

A recent position paper titled, Offside – Classic Offside Situation, highlights a recent MLS match where Landon Donovan had a breakaway from an onside position, but the referee stopped play because a teammate was offsides and pursued, but did not touch the ball or get involved in the play.

I’d embed the video, but US Soccer has disabled that (why?!?!?!) You can view the video here.

Clearly Donovan was onside before pursuing the throughball and Jaqua was offside. As you watch the video, watch how fast the players pull up. The whistle blew VERY early. As the paper notes, officials should refrain from early whistles, precisely because premature calls can take away a clear scoring opportunity. The flag is up – fine. The center should take his/her time and see what transpires. I’d rather see the goal called back because the CR and AR decide it really was offside. Blowing an attack like this dead is just wrong.

I see this tendency even in youth matches. The officials want to be ‘quick’ to make a call because spectators hate a late whistle. But late whistles are the right way to go. My son had this happen – he made a cut near the touchline and flew towards the goal, drilling the ball into the back of the net. During play, nobody saw the AR’s flag in the air – the ball had gone out of bounds, but the AR took his time deciding. CR sees the flag – goal disallowed. It was the right thing to do, even though the whistle was ‘late’. Touchline calls are notorious for being called too early. The ball must completely cross the line. Yet ARs in our league will flag out of bounds, often while the ball is still breaking the plane because they want to avoid play from continuing too long. As soon as the bottom of the ball leaves the line, they flag it. I’d rather they make sure it went completely out before flagging the play as the ball rolls down the line. If that means play gets stopped a few seconds later – so be it. I’ve seen too many sweet ‘saves’ nullified by over eager ARs. Take your time and make sure that ball is all the way out.

Anyway – I thought the combination of a position paper and a YouTube clip was a nice idea. My only suggestions to US Soccer are a) let use embed the clips – forcing people to YouTube is silly, b) allow the sorting of the list by date, and c) an RSS feed of the papers would be very nice.

Here are a few more papers that I found interesting: