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Controversial PK goal lifts FC Dallas over Whitecaps

Michel by Tim Heitman USA TODAY

Photo by Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports


Just days after scoring the goal that sent the Vancouver Whitecaps to the postseason, an unfortunate Kendall Waston handball proved to be the team’s demise.

The Costa Rican defender was called for a questionable handball in the 82nd minute, paving the way for a Michel penalty kick finish as FC Dallas topped the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1, to book a spot in the Western Conference semifinals.

Waston’s penalty was an unlucky one, as the Whitecaps defender was struck in the arm after an FC Dallas throw-in took a big hop in the penalty area. Referee Mark Geiger had a clear view and almost immediately pointed to the spot, giving Michel the chance to seal his team a Sunday matchup with the Seattle Sounders.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 40th minute through Tesho Akindele, who smashed home a pass from Mauro Diaz to give FC Dallas the lead.

It was Diaz’s run that created the chance, as the Argentine dipped and darted past a majority of the Whitecaps backline. Diaz then teed up Akindele and the rookie responded by smashing the ball far-post on his second touch to send Toyota Park into a frenzy.

After nearly equalizing in the 60th, the Whitecaps leveled the scoreline just three minutes later through Erik Hurtado, whose finish came as a result of a bit of ping pong in the box.

Hurtado’s finish came via a set piece, as the Whitecaps free kick bounced in and around the box off of several FC Dallas and Whitecaps players. Eventually, the ball found its way to Hurtado, whose shot ricocheted off FC Dallas midfielder Victor Ulloa and into the goal’s right side to push the score to 1-1.

That scoreline lasted for 18 minutes before Waston conceded the deciding penalty, as the Whitecaps defender’s handball in the box doomed the visitors to an early playoff exit.

Waston’s handball led to a peanlty kick for Michel, who smashed the ball to the goalkeeper’s right to earn FC Dallas a spot in the conference semifinals.

Frustrations boiled following Geiger’s final whistle, as the Whitecaps’ Sebastian Fernandez  ran towards the referee to argue the penalty call that spelled doom for his side. Fernandez’s protests earned little sympathy from Geiger, who issued the Uruguayan a red card postgame.

FC Dallas will now look to regroup for Sunday, when Toyota Park plays host to the Supporters’ Shield-winning Seattle Sounders.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. The ball was in flight, took a sideways bounce, had an awkward spin on it. The defender was actually trying to pull his arm out of the way. That is the opposite of deliberate use of the hand. Geiger is clearly delusional; high on his World Cup appearances. Bad call, wrong call, always a shame when the guy in the middle steals the game from the players on the field.

  2. Worst ref in mls and worst call. Lets hope Geiger is done calling games for the rest of playoffs. He has been the MVP for many playoff games over the last five years!!!!

  3. To The Dork.. Good grief stop with the great referee Great Nation BS.. The referee is a homeboy and America is the laughing stock of the world!

  4. I take exception to the use of the word “controversial” in this headline. It was not controversial. It was another excellent call by our superior referees. We are a top tier league and everyone shares here. This was not a controversial call. It was a great call by a great referee in a great league in a great nation. To say otherwise is un-American and unpatriotic.

    Thank you.

  5. “I hate when people use the term “deliberate” in terms of a “handball.””

    Talk to the drafters of the rule book, who require that it is a ‘deliberate’ act in order to be an infraction.

  6. Kosh, it is not a handball if it is not a deliberate (as in conscious) act to handle the ball. I don’t see a way you can define that as deliberate.

    I don’t care one way or another about either team, but it’s a wrong call that decided a knockout game.

    • Not moving your arm out of the way when you have time to do so before the ball hits it is deliberate. Look at the replay again. Waston actually starts to move his arm away from his body briefly before then trying to make it look like he’s pulling it back. It’s not a harsh call, it’s a stupid move by the defender. He easily had time to move away from that ball before it got through but he didn’t want to let it go through, simple as that.

      This issue is a major problem at every level of soccer I watch because of the language that talks about ball to hand, but not moving your hand/arm out of the path of an oncoming ball is just as deliberate as moving it into the path of an oncoming ball.

      • I agree- the ball wasn’t moving so fast that Waston couldn’t reasonably a) get in better position to chest, or b) pull his arm back. Waston brain fart. Too bad because he’s bee n a hero for the last several VW games.

    • I hate when people use the term “deliberate” in terms of a “handball.” If you do it on purpose, it’s a card, if you don’t, it’s simply an infraction.
      I agree at times with the whole “ball to hand” thing, but this wasn’t one of these cases, way to much time to react.

  7. Emotions are high right now and I can understand that, because if it were my team I’d be just as angry and seeing the call as a bad call too. But from a neutrals’ POV, while the ref could have let that one go he also had every right to make that call. It was not a bad call.

    Tough way for the game to go and like I said as a fan, in that moment, I would be unhappy as well. But that to me was hardly a bad call. It was a handball – unintentional, yes, but handball all the same. Tough way to go out. Fun game though and Maneh turned things on. I think Robinson should have brought him in earlier. Vancouver was the better team on the night for me.

  8. KingGoogleyEye
    October 30, 2014
    “Unless he…deliberately put his arm in an unnatural position so that the ball might strike it….”

    That is exactly what Waston did: the unnatural position was not his arm in relation to his body but rather his entire body in relation to the ball. Waston deliberately moved to intercept the ball—and brought his arms along with him. His fault.


    Huh? At first I thought this comment was sarcastic but…. His entire body was in an unnatural position in relation to the ball? What? He deliberately was trying to intercept the ball? What? This is the most tortured attempt to justify and handball call I’ve ever seen.

    Again, “Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm.” This is not a handball under the rules. Just because refs botch this all the time doesn’t mean it’s the right call.

    • Ah, “a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball”

      Precisely what Waston did. He deliberately moved to make contact with the ball. Plain as day. QED.

      Your mistake is that you think “deliberate” modifies the clause “with his hand or arm.” It does not. It modifies the clause “act of making contact.”

  9. A lot of commenters and many refs choose to ignore the word “deliberate” in the definition of handball in the rules. Unfortunately here, it decided a knockout game.

  10. The league really needs to address this in the offseason.
    How many games were decided by a bad decision by the ref?

    Oh, and PLEASE get rid of Baldomero Toledo!!!!

  11. Wow, I read the comments and was fully expecting to see a controversial call. Watched the highlights and all I saw was a clear example of handball in the penalty area.

    I really wanted Vancouver to win this one (watching Waston defend is a treat and for some unknown reason Michel makes me want to tear my eyes out), but that call was spot on. Geiger is a great ref.

    • Like I said it was harsh but it was hardly ridiculous. I feel like it was called because of the time he had to settle and play it properly. He expected it to get deflected by the guys in front of him and when it didn’t he couldn’t move his arm in time.

      So you have a weird situation where he had time to move but didn’t think he had time to move.

    • This. He used his arm to deflect the ball to gain possession. It’s unfortunate, but if that’s not a handball, nothing short of the full Suarez is.

      Here’s a good test: if that happened at midfield, would you call it? (Yup)
      If the attacking team did it and moved the ball towards the goal, would you call it? (Yep)
      Then call it.

      • Except there were two or three instances in this game with this same official were similar handballs were not called in midfield. Consistency.

        At least the goal came late so I didn’t have to watch 45 minutes of Blas lying on the ground like he had been shot. He’s embarassing.

    • That why it is controversial… I don’t think it is an handball but judging by one’s interpretation of the rules I can see it being called as one.

  12. Dallas was also not remotely close to scoring. The “handball” was, what, 18 yards from goal on a ball that, had it passed him, was chest high. I have the same problem with tackles in the box when the player is dribbling away from goal at the corner of the box and the end line or even better yet about to run out of bounds. These plays take what is clearly not even close to a scoring opportunity and give the team a win. It’s a travesty.

  13. These are pros not u12s its called much tighter themore pro you get. Get your damn arms out of the way. Legit call. A tad harsh, but tuck your arms.

  14. Increase0
    October 30, 2014
    Okay, it was harsh but stop pretending it didnt hit his arm. The ball was exactly moving fast so it was clear.
    Harsh I admit but you cant pretend he didnt touch it with his arm.

    October 30, 2014

    Doesn’t matter if it struck his arm. Unless he deliberately (ie consciously) touched the ball with his arm or deliberately put his arm in an unnatural position so that the ball might strike it, it is not a handball. Refs drive me crazy with their over zealousness in wanting to whistle a handball when the ball just hits a defender in the arm. In this case, it just happened to decide a knockout playoff game where both teams had been busting their ;)$&@& to get to this point all season. Just awful refereeing. The ref shouldn’t see another game for the rest of the postseason

    • You did see that I was responding to someone that said claimed it was his shoulder right?

      “Dare I say “shoulder,” not even his hand” – Taylor Twellman = Zac Morris

      That’s all I’m saying. If you want to see a truly terrible decision find the highlights of the champions leage from last week. The man gets hit the face with the ball and yet Pen.

      Schalke 04 vs Sporting CP last week.

    • “Unless he…deliberately put his arm in an unnatural position so that the ball might strike it….”

      That is exactly what Waston did: the unnatural position was not his arm in relation to his body but rather his entire body in relation to the ball. Waston deliberately moved to intercept the ball—and brought his arms along with him. His fault.

      • Indeed, he should have removed his arm before moving into position. Or would that be unnatural?

        It was a weird play, sure the throw was from a ways away, but it looked like Koffie was going to head it clear, it then took a big irregular bounce and it looked like he was caught by surprise.

      • Nope, his arms should stay with him. And that’s the point: you can’t separate the deliberate actions of a player from the accidental actions of his arms, just as you can’t (or shouldn’t) separate a player from his arms.

  15. From the FIFA rule book:
    Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm. The referee must take the following into consideration:
    • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
    • the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
    • the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement
    • touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.) counts as an infringement
    • hitting the ball with a thrown object (boot, shinguard, etc.) counts as an infringement

    Not a fan of either team, but under the rules, that was absolutely not a handball. Horrible decision.

    • It’s fairly clear when you actually look at the rules, huh. Agreed. Not a handball. Even on TV it didn’t look like a handball. He was actively trying to move out of the way too, which makes it even worse. Such a bummer for Vancouver.

    • BS. Take your blinders off. According to these rules it was a handball. He had plenty of time to adjust (it’s a chest ball!), and he turned his body to trap it with his pinned arm.

      What earned him the call was his immediate reaction – a guilty glance towards Geiger that indicated intent. If Waston is not guilty he immediately clears the ball. Instead he pauses and checks with Geiger first. Have any of you played the sport? This is classic officiating!

      • Have I played the sport? wow

        So classic officiating is looking at the players face to determine what he should call? Yes, I have played the game and have reefed for many many years. You should make the call based on what happened, not what you PERCEIVE to be the player’s reaction.

        You can tell that he is trying to put his arm behind his body. If he intentionally hit the ball with his arm, then he is 1) very stupid (probably would not have made it to this level if so), and 2) very good at deception (which would make his “guilty look” a little bit inconsistent, right?).

        He did not intentionally handle the ball and he did not gain an advantage from handling the ball. In fact, he never even handled the ball in the first place. The ball bounced up and hit his elbow as he was bringing it behind his back.

  16. It was definitely a bummer, and truly bad luck, since it was clearly unintentional. But his arm was away from his body, and the ball would have probably (or even possibly) traveled further into the box. Automatic call, really. And I can’t stand Dallas.

    • His hand was right next to his body. And he was moving it behind his body at the time the ball hit it. Absolutely no intent or anything “unnatural” about it.

      • Okay, it was harsh but stop pretending it didnt hit his arm. The ball was exactly moving fast so it was clear.
        Harsh I admit but you cant pretend he didnt touch it with his arm.

      • “Not the hand”


        The anatomical region contacted by the ball was either Waston’s forearm or, at the very most proximal, his cubital fossa. Not his shoulder at all.

        None of which makes any difference in terms of the definition of “handball.”

      • Agreed about hating having the refs determine the outcome, though aggrevated that everyone always seems to refer to the refs making a call, rather than not making a call as the thing that determines the outcome. I’m always bummed to watch the creative, free-flowing teams disappear from the playoffs because the rules suddenly changed in order to “let them play” – a euphemism that only applies to defenders apparently.

        I still wonder (and, no, I’m not an LA fan) if the Sounders win the Supporters Shield if the second yellow is awarded for the foul on Donovan. Cynical, professional foul that’s an easy yellow, except the player already has a yellow and the ref doesn’t want to “decide the game”, so he lets the player get away with it, thereby changing the outcome of the game. 0-0 with a man advantage for LA – could easily have ended differently.

        Having said that, there’s no way I would ever call the Dallas call a handball. He’s clearly throwing his chest at the ball, with his arm in a natural position by his body, with a late reaction to try to somehow contort his arms behind his body. A position that is completely unnatural and seems the only way for defenders to not get whistled for the handball.

        Geiger clearly had a bee in his bonnet over Waston, given his booking of him earlier for having been run over by Perez. A booking that the incredibly pro-Dallas commentators on my feed not only couldn’t justify, but that completely baffled them.

      • “He’s clearly throwing his chest at the ball, with his arm in a natural position by his body, with a late reaction to try to somehow contort his arms behind his body.”

        In other words: Waston tried to chest the ball, misjudged its path, and tried to correct too late.

        In fewer words: Waston messed up.

        In the fewest words: Handball.

      • I wasn’t aware that chesting the ball and misjudging with a late correction was the definition of handball. Unlike hands in natural position and moving away from the ball which is an actual part of Fifa guidelines for handball. In other words: you have no clue what you’re talking about. In fewer words: you’re wrong. In fewest words: incorrect

      • If defenders were allowed to use the excuse, “I decided at the last split-second that actually I didn’t want my hand to be in the way,” then there would never be a handball offense again.

      • ball traveled about 25 yards from a throw-in. plenty of time to move arm out of way (even if in “natural position”).

        Ball “kicked-into-hand” from 2 yards out – different story.

      • Flawed argument. The ball caromed off of one of the players who jumped for it, then bounced off the grass, possibly with spin from the deflection off the player. To say that Waston should have known the trajectory of the ball before it caromed and bounced is ridiculous. If this is a penalty then we will see 30-40% of MLS games next year include one like this. Is that what anyone wants? Random goals based on accidental contact deciding a third of the games in the league?

      • What we want are professional athletes who can correctly judging the path of a ball. Waston usually does. This time he didn’t.

        We also want professional athletes who can identify situations where the trajectory might be difficult to predict and position their body ahead of time to account for sudden changes. Waston usually does. This time he didn’t.

        Mostly, we want referees who place these burdens on the players at fault instead of letting them slide like they’re officiating a U8 game or some charity celebrity match. Geiger usually makes the right call. This time was no exception.

        The error was entirely Waston’s fault, so he earned the handball fair and square.

  17. I smell an fc Dallas vs revolution final at Gillette stadium, and if there is a team that needs a championship for a soccer stadium or rebrand, it’s the revolution.
    Who else deserves an MLS cup, dc, revolution, crew, or Dallas so they can get their team a roof cover and actual seats.
    Or should I say Seattle, since they need some hybrid turf or their own stadium.
    Fc Dallas can easily beat any team in the west and revolution is just rolling in the east.

    • This is a funny post. If Cups = deserving a stadium, then DC would have 4 stadiums right now.

      FC Dallas cannot easily beat any of the teams in the West as they had a hard go of it against the 5 seed – at home! The East is much more fluid but NE also has some way to go to get there, that said if they do make it that far then they are a stronger bet than FCD.

      • FC Dallas has the ability to beat anyone, just as anyone in the playoffs has a good chance to beat anyone. That is both the good, and the bad part of playoffs.

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