MLS Umpire Panel Defend Decisions After Orlando's Chaotic Victory Over NYCFC

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The Professional Referees Organization, which allocates referee assignments in North America, including MLS, defended referee Allen Chapman's handling of the end of the MLS Cup first round playoff game between Orlando City SC and New York City FC.

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After extra time 1-1, both teams proceeded to a penalty shootout. Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese appeared to give the Lions a 4-3 shootout victory by saving Taty Castellanos' shot, but VAR felt Gallese left his line early. He was then booked and, as this was his second warning, he was kicked out.

Orlando backup goalie Brian Rowe tried to convince Chapman he could be substituted, and at first it looked like the replacement would be cleared. But after consulting with the rest of the refereeing team, Chapman decided that only a player who was on the pitch at the end of extra time could replace Gallese.

Midfielder Rodrigo Schlegel was ultimately chosen to replace Gallese.

Castellanos then converted the recovery, and NYCFC goaltender Sean Johnson saved Nani's attempt to bring the NYCFC back to the level. But in the seventh round, Schlegel became the hero, saving Gudmundur Thorarinsson's attempt. Benji Michel then converted Orlando's next shot to give the Lions the win.

But after the game, there was still considerable confusion as to whether Chapman had handled the situation properly. The rules of the game changed in June 2019-2020 to say that a goalkeeper must have one foot on the line when a penalty is kicked. Any violation was a mandatory yellow card. But it led to several controversial incidents during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, where it was first used.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), which oversees the Laws of the Game, has offered a special waiver for leagues and competitions not to engage a goalkeeper during a penalty shoot-out, to reduce the risk that he be expelled in a shootout.

The IFAB amended the Laws of the Game for 2020-2021 to state that a goalkeeper must be cautioned for the first offense and reserved for any subsequent breach. In addition, yellow cards picked up during the game are not valid for penalties.

But MLS has operated under the 2019-20 version of the Laws of the Game for the entire season. So, while next season Gallese would enter the shootout without a yellow card and also not be reserved to get out of his line, it didn't help him that day.

“The MLS regular season began in March 2020 prior to the entry into force of the changes to the 2020/21 Law, and therefore the entire regular season was played under the provisions of the 2019/20 Laws of the Game, as were the current playoffs, ”PRO said in a statement to ESPN. “As such, when a goalkeeper encroaches on the goal line and does not have at least one foot on or aligned with the goal line at the time a penalty kick is taken, or when a kick occurs during the penalty shoot-out to decide the winner of the match, if the kick is saved it must be retaken and the goalkeeper must also be cautioned. “

The statement added that Gallese “had been properly warned for the offense under the Laws of the Game 2019/20”.

Regarding Rowe's replacement attempt, PRO said Chapman's final decision was correct. The PRO statement added: “The Laws of the Game only allow a goalkeeper who has been sent off during a penalty shoot-out to be replaced by an eligible player, i.e. a player who was on the playing court at the end of extra time. As such, although Orlando didn't use up their full substitute allowance, they weren't able to bring a substitute goalie into the game at that point, and Gallese had to be replaced in the goal by an outfield player. “

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