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PRO says Ted Unkel got Crew call wrong; Santos goal should have stood

The Black & Gold get some positive news in that they weren’t wrong in protesting the call on Saturday.

MLS: New England Revolution at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ted Unkel was wrong. You probably already knew that. But now it’s official.

On Wednesday evening, just over an hour before Columbus Crew SC took to the field at MAPFRE Stadium to face D.C. United, the Professional Referee Organization released a statement detailing that Video Assistant Review was incorrectly used in the Black & Gold’s 3-1 loss to D.C. United and Crew midfielder Wil Trapp was incorrectly called for a foul on a play that led to Columbus scoring the open goal, which was subsequently taken away.

The play in question occurred in the 22nd minute of the match with the game level at 0-0. The Crew passed the ball to the middle of the field where Unkel got in the way of the play, appearing to collide with D.C. midfielder Luciano Accosta. Trapp wound up with the ball and played a pass to winger Pedro Santos, who subsequently dribbled into the penalty box and scored the opening goal.

After initially allowing the goal to stand, Unkel was notified by Video Assistant Review official Kevin Terry Jr. that he should look at the play. Unkel did and decided that Trapp committed a foul and the goal was wiped from the board.

As most who watch the game could see, that was the incorrect call and now PRO has made that official. Here is the statement from PRO:

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) acknowledges that an officiating error occurred during the 22nd minute of the match between D.C. United and Columbus Crew SC on May 4.

The Video Assistant Referee recommended a review of the Pedro Santos goal for Columbus for a possible foul by Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp on D.C. midfielder Luciano Acosta in the attacking phase of play, leading up to the goal.

The incident should not have been recommended for review by the VAR as the decision to play on was not a clear and obvious error, which is the threshold for VAR intervention. Additionally, having reviewed the incident footage, the referee, who has the final decision, should have determined that no foul had been committed in the attacking phase of play and that the original call, and therefore the goal by Santos, should have stood.

PRO evaluates the performance of every match official and takes necessary steps to continually minimize errors through rigorous testing and training protocols. Additionally, PRO holds its officials accountable and takes appropriate action in regards to future assignments.

Following the game, Crew head coach Caleb Porter made some strong statements about Unkel, saying that he bailed himself out after running into a player and said the Black & Gold get “no respect.” If any punishment is coming for Unkel, it’s not anything apparent as he will continue to officiate MLS matches.

While Columbus will be happy that PRO made the comments saying the call was wrong, it will not do the Crew any benefit, as the team does not get the goal or the potential points that could have come from the match.