Immediately after the 1-0 loss to Tigres on Wednesday, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said he hadn't gotten a clear enough look at whether Tigres should have been called for offside, as his defenders clearly believed.
Now, of course, Schmid has gotten a look, and he believes the call should have been made.
Replays show little doubt that a Tigres player was behind Sounders' deepest defender Zach Scott when the pass was struck. However, the referee did not make the call, apparently because they pass did not go to that player and therefore his offside position didn't affect the play.
After training this morning, Schmid took time to make the case that that is too literal a reading of the rule.
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Here is Schmid's thinking:
"I think it was offsides. I know what the interpretation is, and I know that the referee’s interpretation is going to be that the guy who actually scored the goal wasn’t offside. But the ball was hit directly at the guy who’s offside. He’s standing 6 yards in front of the goalkeeper, so he’s taking the goalkeeper’s attention; so to me that’s offside – or else on free kicks we should be able to put a guy on the 6-yard box and let him stand offsides and then when the ball is hit he just walks away, and so he should never be offsides even if the ball is hit straight at him.
"It’s that part of the offside rule that I as a coach have a little bit of an issue with as to how that is interpreted. When a guy’s in that deep – when a guys’ in the 6-yard box -- whether he’s the ball that actually touches the ball or not, the defense is focused on him, the goalkeeper is focused on him, the defense is pushed out to leave the guy offside, the ball is hit in his direction: If that’s not offsides then as a defense you can never push out anymore. Then you might as well say anybody can stand offside as long as they don’t touch the ball. Then you’ve got to alter how you’re going to coach in those situations. So to me it was offsides mainly because of where the ball was hit.
"... The whole part of that too, is the guy that ends up scoring the header then is really offsides at the time of the first header, but then it hits the goalkeeper, so they say it’s a new play. Well, if he hadn’t been standing in that offside position, he wouldn’t have gotten to the ball first. So didn’t the offside position give him a benefit? But then you’re saying, no, it’s a new play because it hit off the goalkeeper. Well, again, to me that’s a very debatable area. But I understand the rule.
"I think the player drew the attention of the defense and the attention of the goalkeeper, and therefore it should have been offsides. The ball was hit too close to him not to be in – I don’t know what you call it: the sphere of influence – but he’s in that area. So that’s the way I thought the rule was interpreted. So if they’re going to interpret the rule differently, then I think they need to let everybody know, and I think it changes the way you defend."