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Referee Juan Guzman pulls yellow card instead of red on Giancarlo Gonzalez

Giancarlo Gonzalez should have gotten sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity, but Guzman lets him off with a caution.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Crew appeared to be the recipient of some fortuitous calls by Referee Juan Guzman. The referee did hand out a red card to Bernardo Anor in the 81st minute for a two footed tackle on Perry Kitchen. Guzman could have given one to Giancarlo Gonzalez in the 73rd minute for Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO) for a tackle on Eddie Johnson as he streamed towards the Crew goal.

Gonzalez and Michael Parkhurst collapsed on Johnson as he took a long outlet at midfield. Parkhurst toe poked the ball towards the Crew defensive end and Johnson slipped past Gonzalez. Both Crew defenders were left chasing Johnson as he headed toward Steve Clark and the Crew goal. Gonzalez pulled on Johnson's shirt and dragged him down with Parkhurst trailing by several yards.

The decision took several minutes after D.C. tried take a quick restart and punch through a goal, causing flared tempers on both sided. Guzman did confer with the Assistant Referee Mark Cahen and then awarded a yellow card to Gonzalez.

While Gonzalez was the last man between Johnson and the goal, PRO Referee recently clarified that that isn't the definition to award a red card. They cited the DOGSO rule and recently clarified it in a blog post on the PRO Referee site. The criteria are as follows:

  • The direction of the play
  • The distance between the offence and the goal
  • The likelihood of the player keeping or gaining control of the ball
  • Proximity of both the attacker and defender to the ball
  • The location and number of defenders
  • The opportunity for an obvious attempt on goal

Looking over the criteria, it seems apparent that Johnson was denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity as he was moving towards goal, at the top of the 18 yard box, had total control of the ball, and was in prime position compared to his defenders. It appeared to meet every criteria set forth by FIFA's Laws of the Game.

The assembled press did seek clarification from the referee crew and the stadium pool reporter submitted questions regarding the play to the referees, but the referee crew declined to answer citing that the 2014 MLS Pool Reporters Form was not visible and posted in the referee's locker room. Members of the Columbus Crew front office did provide the form to the crew, but a member of the officiating team declined to accept the document.

PRO will likely be addressing the play later in the week as they assess all officials after each match. Sorin Stoica was demoted to NASL games last year after a rough performance during the Crew's game in Los Angeles against the Galaxy. Guzman is a more senior referee, but it bears watching what his assignments are in the near future.