Seattle Sounders' Loss Demonstrates Need For Video Replay Technology

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Seattle Sounders' Loss Demonstrates Need For Video Replay Technology
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Seattle Sounders Team Captain Kasey Keller delivered solid insights on the 2-1 setback against CD Marathon Thursday night.

The Seattle Sounders were deadlocked 1-1 with host CD Marathon in the group stage opener of CONCACAF Champions League play Thursday night at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras when the deciding play of the evening occurred in the 45th minute.   

Sounders veteran defender Tyrone Marshall had been tenaciously battling Marathon’s Nicolas Cardozo all evening when the two players collided on the Sounders edge of the pitch.  Marshall sought to clear the area with a kick.

What followed was Marshall receiving a yellow card and Cardozo coolly delivering a penalty kick from the box that gave the home team a hard fought 2-1 victory.

The most experienced player on the field, Sounders two time All-Star goalkeeper Kasey Keller, sized up his view of the collision with the expertise of an international professional soccer veteran of 40:

"The ball came over the top and it took a bad bounce. I didn't expect it to bounce that way. I called for Tyrone [Marshall] to head it to me but it didn't get there. I don't know how it was a penalty.”

The seasoned veteran then tackled the essence of the issue, stating, “ I haven't seen the tape but it didn't look like a penalty to me. It looked like two guys swing and kick each others' legs and next thing you know the ball is in my hands and he [the referee] is signaling a foul. I don't know what he saw. It may have been good play by the striker but I don't know. That was frustrating.”

 

The initial reaction by Marshall was stunned silence.  Meanwhile, his teammates rushed to the scene and protested the call.

The penalty call illustrated once more the issue discussed frequently during recent World Cup television coverage by commentators and experts.  Officials can only expect to see so much.  In bygone days, it was recognized that this was an imperfection that needed to be accepted since there was no viable alternative beyond officials’ spot decisions.

With the advent of video technology, a viable alternative is now present.  Thursday’s call further illustrates the need of reviewing plays with the benefit of video evidence.

The replay in this instance illustrated how and why an official would make such a call as well as the importance of having the camera’s all-seeing eye to review action.  In this case, Marshall’s leg was in motion.  He did make contact with the oncoming player, but it appeared as if his leg was already in motion.

This begs the following question.  Wasn’t this a play like one of those many instances in the National Football League where two players are going for the ball?  In American football the prevalent rule is “Both players have an equal right to pursue the ball.”  In such instances, given that acceptance, no penalty is called.

In the game of soccer, this was a similar circumstance and the same result should obtain.  The only reason, based on review of video evidence, why Marshall made contact was due to the rushing of the Marathon player to the scene.  This contact occurred due to both players making a play for the ball, as Kasey Keller noted.

The official, therefore, seeing Marshall making contact with an opposing player could easily make a penalty call absent the advantage of seeing the play clearly through video technology.  This would have put the issue in a different context.

Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid was tactful, but obviously disappointed by the call that resulted in the evening’s deciding goal.  “The penalty, I thought, was a harsh call,” Schmid said, “but it is what it is.”

Schmid thought that his team performed better in the second half, warming up in the humid evening to the task at hand.  Statistics bear him out in the shot department as Seattle, bolstered by a stronger second half effort, ended the match with a 15-10 overall advantage.

Schmid’s post game comment underscored his belief that the Sounders improved as the game progressed:

"I think our effort in the game (was that) we didn't do well at the outset with [Carlos] Palacios on the one side and [Randy] Diamond on the other side. I think we were disjointed offensively. The last 20 minutes, 25 minutes of the game I thought we had very good energy. In the beginning of the game we didn't have good energy and we didn't see an awful lot of the ball. If you want to see the ball a lot you need to play hard. We need to be better next time."

Despite Sounders difficulties in getting untracked early, one of the most beautifully executed goals of the season occurred in the 17th minute culminating with a score by Roger Levesque, whose last previous goal had been the game winner at D.C. United in the 89th minute July 18.

Levesque was put in a position to deliver a goal producer based on two superb assists.  The first came on a cross from right to left by the irrepressible Fredy Montero, who has provided yeoman duty as the season has progressed both as a scorer and score generator as an assist master.

The assist was the Colombia Comet’s 10th of the season.  This means that he has achieved his earlier stated goal to provide 10 assists this campaign.

Montero’s well orchestrated cross moved into the middle, the territory of Seattle’s veteran midfielder Blaise Nkufo.  A less experienced player may well have either let the ball go or given it a harder kick that would have driven it beyond Levesque.

Levesque needed help to have a shot at a goal, but of just the right kind, which Nkufo provided.  With his body facing forward, Nkufo delivered a gentle swipe with the back of his foot.  The ball accordingly landed at Levesque’s feet, he drove the ball into the back post, and the Sounders were on the scoreboard with a 1-0 lead.

The equalizer was provided in the 27th minute as Orvin Paz took a pass from Randy Diamond and touched it once before driving a low scoring shot to the near post.

The controversial penalty kick of Nicolas Cardozo in the 45th minute closed out not only first half scoring but that of the remainder of the game, but that does not mean that the equally hard fought second half was devoid of thrills and scoring opportunities.

Two Sounders opportunities stand out, both coming near the end of the match.  Nathan Sturgis' corner in the 78th minute found a darting Michael Seamon near the 6-yard box.  Seamon’s resulting header hit the crossbar.

Montero nearly scored in the 89th minute.  He struck a bouncing ball in the box with just the right light touch.  Fate was not on Seattle’s side as Montero’s effort rolled just wide of the far post.

Keller commented afterward about the Seattle opportunities that failed to connect with the net.

“We had multiple chances at the end of the game to get something out of this,” Keller acknowledged.  “Once again, usually you would put in nine of 10 of them but it was just one of those days when it just wasn't going to happen. And that was probably the most frustrating. We know we were better and we should have done better."

The 2-1 setback generates added pressure on the Sounders to defeat CF Monterrey of Mexico in the next round of action, which resumes August 25 on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.

League play will resume August 28 with Freddie Ljungberg and the Chicago Fire visiting Qwest Field.  After that the Sounders face Chivas USA in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal September 1 at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.

Team Captain Keller summarized Thursday night’s action along with Seattle’s ongoing participation in CONCACAF Champions League activity philosophically:

Team Captain Keller summarized Thursday night’s action along with Seattle’s ongoing participation in CONCACAF Champions League activity philosophically:

“We thought we had changed it already but our energy in the first 20 minutes was a bit more selective. We have got to get more pressure on them. We all learn from experiences. It's a long trip. It's hot, humid, we are on a very slow pitch and we just couldn't figure it out. We have got five more games left in this competition and there's nothing to fear playing these teams. We can line up with these teams quite comfortably."

Seattle stands at 10-9-7 overall this season.  Its unbeaten streak of nine matches (6-0-3) over all competitions has ended.

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