Remember your initial reaction to the first San Jose goal last Friday. The ire you felt after the ref called the goal when it didn't look like it was over the line. After all the replays, we were ultimately convinced that, yes, the ball did go over the line and we grudgingly conceded the goal. Well, fire up your ire once more, grab your heart pills and have at it, because it turns out we were looking at it all wrong and the goal should not have stood after all.
In an article on PRO ( the Professional Referee Organization that oversees the MLS officiating) that very play was analyzed. It turns out at the moment David Ousted had the ball pinned to the ground after backing into the net, the ball could not be considered fully over the line. The rule is that, if looking from above, no part of the ball can be overlapping the goal line. This means, it's possible for no part of the ball to actually touch the line and for the ball to not be considered in the net provided some part of the curve of the ball is still over the line. We certainly saw on the replays the ball not touching any part of the line, but the PRO article feels there is no way that at that point the ball could be completely beyond the goal line at the critical moment Ousted pinned the ball to the ground.
It's when Alashe kicks the ball out of Ousted's hands and into the net that the ball completely clears the goal line. But this is an illegal act. The goal keeper is considered in control of the ball when it is contained between his hand and any surface, including the ground. So, in their opinion: no goal. The article then goes on to describe how the sideline ref did not reposition himself properly to get a good look at the play. Blah, blah, blah.
Sure, yet one more example of MLS refs getting it wrong, and this is most concerning if the assistant ref did consider the ball still in play until Alashe kicks it over the line, then it is another example of the refs not knowing the rules well enough (I seem to remember a game where the assistant ref called an offside on a throw in). But, I think it may be worth giving the benefit of the doubt here and concede that the ref just didn't put himself in the right place to see the play correctly. The lesser of two evils? It sucks to not have the play called correctly, but this is MLS and we know the score here.
I want the refs to get the calls right and to be accountable when they get things wrong. I guess the reason I'm not all up in arms over this possible non goal is that the Whitecaps flirt with this kind of danger when they let their opponent take chance after chance and corner kick after corner kick. This blown call is still not the reason the 'Caps lost that game. They lost because they didn't defend well and they didn't attack well. They didn't keep possession of the ball and they have difficulty getting the ball back, and the 'Caps best players aren't playing their best.