(Major League Soccer)
(Major League Soccer)

Referee Juan Guzman should have issued a red card to a Columbus Crew defender for fouling D.C. United’s Eddie Johnson on a breakaway during Saturday’s MLS match, a high-ranking figure in the officiating organization said Tuesday.

Guzman “failed to take the correct action,” said Paul Rejer, training and development manager for the Professional Referee Organization, which oversees officiating in MLS.

Juan Guzman (PRO photo) Juan Guzman (PRO photo)

In the 71st minute, Columbus’s Giancarlo Gonzalez fouled Johnson from behind as the United forward dashed toward the penalty area [video]. In soccer parlance, Gonzalez had denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO), which should result in a red card. Guzman, however, gave a yellow card, allowing the Crew to remain at full strength.

According to Rejer, a longtime referee in England, the sequence met all DOGSO requirements:

  • The direction of the play – “Eddie Johnson is moving towards goal”
  • The distance between the offense and the goal – “It takes place on the edge of penalty area”
  • The likelihood of the player keeping or gaining control of the ball – “He is in full control”
  • Proximity of both the attacker and defender to the ball – “Johnson has the ball at his feet and Gonzalez is behind him”
  • The location and number of defenders – “There’s one other defender but he is too far away to prevent the Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity”
  • The opportunity for an obvious attempt on goal – “It’s obvious as all of the above criteria applies”

“I do not intend to look for reasons why referee Juan Guzman only issued a yellow card for this clear DOGSO offense — he is responsible and all of the post-match talk is about him,” Rejer wrote in PRO’s Play of the Week. “But, what I will say is … all the members of his crew have a responsibility to inform him that this is DOGSO, especially when it is this clear. Guzman consulted with [assistant referee] Mark Cahen but still failed to take the correct action.

Paul Rejer (PRO photo) Paul Rejer (PRO photo)

“A DOGSO that meets all of the above criteria should be dealt with swiftly and positively to avoid any potential confrontation and all of the officiating crew have a collective responsibility to ensure the Laws of the Game are applied.”

United was leading 1-0 at the time, and without a starting center back, the Crew would have had to alter its lineup. Ten minutes later, Guzman did hand out a red card to a Crew player: Bernardo Anor, for a two-footed challenge against Perry Kitchen. Had Gonzalez been properly ejected earlier, United would’ve enjoyed a two-man advantage.

Still, as United coaches and players admitted afterward, a one-man edge should have been enough to secure victory. Instead, United conceded Hector Jimenez‘s superb goal in the 90th minute and settled for a 1-1 draw, extending its winless streak in regular season away matches to 20.

After the match, Guzman and his crew declined to answer written questions from a pool reporter, citing a procedural technicality. They claimed the Referee Pool Reporter Form, outlining the process, was not visible in their locker room. A Crew representative showed Guzman a copy of the form on a smart phone. Guzman again declined to address the controversial play.

On Sunday, in an e-mail exchange with the Insider, Rejer said: “This is a clear case of DOGSO.”