The offside rule is one of the simplest rules in all of sports.
Essentially, a player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent. (That's directly from the FIFA rule book.)
Yet, the application of that rule is one of the most complicated and confusing elements of soccer. It requires a human to make a split-second decision based on the movements of high-class athletes without the aid of instant replay. And it then requires a collective split-second consensus from the viewing public to decide if they agree with the call or not.
(Explaining the purpose of this rule to non-soccer fans who think it stands in the way of more scoring is also slightly difficult.)
Last night, there were two "controversial" offsides calls, both of which went against Sporting Kansas City. One rewarded a goal to Los Angeles, the other denied Kansas City a goal.
As fans in the moment, it's easy to feel aggrieved by these sort of decisions -- especially when it feels like, as Peter Vermes said after the game, "it's us against everybody, because nothing is going to go our way and we realize that."
Yet, as controversial as they may have seemed at the time, upon further review... both calls were absolutely correct.
So, in the light of the next day, let's take a look at both incidents again fully realizing that we have the benefit of slow-motion replay.
Here is Sean Franklin's first goal.
While the Galaxy's Adam Cristman is
offsides, Aurelien Collin keeps Franklin on by at least a foot. Not convinced? Since Cristman makes no play for the ball or even an attempt to join the attacking action, it doesn't matter where he is. Here's a screen grab. (The ball has already left the head of Omar Gonzalez in this picture.)
Collin's goal in the second half is a much tougher call.
I'm pretty sure every single person in attendance felt like the goal should've counted. Collin certainly seemed to after the game. He told the press:
"Everybody saw the video and I wasn't offside. I danced a little bit, but when I saw the referee I wasn't surprised. I don't know if you saw my reaction, but I'm used to that in this league. The referees are like that in this league and we have to play with them. We have to allow them to make mistakes. They are human, even if here they make more mistakes than in the rest of the world."
I felt like it was a goal at the time. But I'm not a trained referee. And, when you take another look, the replay shows that Collin was a shoulder offside. Here's the screen grab to prove it.
It's a really tough call made by the linesman -- one that I've seen uncalled more than a few times -- but the line judge got these two calls right.
Collin is certainly right, referees are human and, given the vast array of examples the last decade, are prone to make mistakes. But not this time.
Besides, isn't a 2-2 draw with the best team in the league -- not to mention fighting back from a goal down twice! -- worth talking about more than two correct calls?