Referees in MLS are no strangers to making mistakes, or criticism of said mistakes. Professional Referee Organization (PRO) is an institution that might be most quickly improved by an apostrophe, but spends most of its time focusing on referees in the league, occasionally identifying and reporting on their errors, as well as pursuing its primary goal of improving the quality of refereeing.
It seems that the number of formal explanations from PRO has been on the rise. Most recently, the biggest of a slew MLS refereeing errors was relevant to the New York Red Bulls, and involved Karl Ouimette's ruffle with Cyle Larin. It was an immediate talking point of the game between RBNY and Orlando City - and may yet be regarded as the turning point in the Red Bulls' season (if the Red Bulls' season has indeed turned around).
Orlando City goalkeeper, Joe Bendik, had sent a ball towards Larin, with the young striker on the break. Based on the picture provided by Taylor Twellman, the linesman failed at his one job. All he had to do was focus on one purple shirted player (Larin) and his position compared to two white shirts on the field (Ronald Zubar and Ouimette). A purple-shirted player who was an arm's length offside, relative to those two white shirts. No biggie. Maybe he sneezed. Or blinked. Or forgot Larin wasn't defending that end of the field.
Doing some homework today, Larin was offside before Ouimette tackled him on the breakaway. #NYvORL #MLS pic.twitter.com/eXj3SuzSHh— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) April 25, 2016
As Larin runs onto Bendik's distribution, Ouimette and Larin make contacting resulting in both of them falling to the ground. Arguments and shouts are thrown from the Orlando camp as the action was surely an offense worthy of a red card, due to the obvious denial of Larin's goal scoring opportunity. However, let us not forget that the situation should not have happened in the first place. Larin was in an offside position when Bendik distributes the ball.
And for those of you with the time to think one step further and say, "goal kicks can't be offside", well just because the goalkeeper had the ball, does not mean it was a goal kick. Rather the keeper happened to kick the ball, as highlighted by Joe Bendik dropping and kicking the ball from the 18 yard line.
As my colleague Jason Iapicco has pointed out: PRO has started to grow fond of ruling on refereeing mistakes in mid-game. In this case, PRO ruled on a refereeing mistake without noticing it was facilitated by a refereeing mistake. Two blown calls and a very hasty rush to judgement in calling the TV commentary team to call out one of those mistakes but not other: the only controversy here is PRO doesn't know when to keep its mouth shut, and its refs don't know when to open their own.