I'm not sure I would go as far as saying Paul Tambernio, the U.S. Director of Referee Development, is saying the deciding goal in Saturday's game shouldn't have been allowed, but in this week's roundup of MLS games he does acknowledge that all was not as it should have been.
"We feel that the Seattle player [Evans] got an unfair advantage on the throw-in," Tamberino said. "We always give our players a little bit of leeway on the point of the throw, two or three yards. But in this case it’s a good 12 to 15 yards advantage, and it’s an unfair advantage."
The former MLS referee says Evans did not appear to intentionally deceive head referee Jair Marrufo and the refereeing crew. He noted that the player continued his run toward the touch line and received a ball from the Qwest field ball person in a split second.
Although the play was a byproduct of home-field advantage and it took place within seconds, it still should have been addressed by the man in the middle.
"The referee needs to be aware of where that ball went out and especially at that time of the game in the attacking third," Tamberino said. "The referee needs to take the lead there. The assistant referee knows that in the waning seconds of the game his focus needs to be on where that second to last defender is. So the onus comes on the referee."
I don't think this should come as a shock to anyone who saw the play. It's pretty obvious upon rewatching that Evans was no where near the point where the ball went out of bounds when he makes the throw. Of course, as Tamberino says, there really doesn't appear to have been anything purposeful or deceitful done on Evans' part. And more relevantly, in the run of play, it wasn't even immediately obvious just how much liberty Evans took on the throw-in because of the speed at which it all happened.
Although that replay doesn't show it, the key to sequence was Evans immediately looking for a ball and a hyper-alert ball person getting him one almost immediately. I would argue that where the throw-in occurred was probably less of a big deal than the speed with with it occurred. As soon as Evans crossed the byline, a ball was in his hands and almost as quickly he spotted Fucito.
I'm sure this will be interpreted by some as acknowledgement that the goal should not have been allowed. Tamberino doesn't exactly say that and I'm not sure that's how it should be interpreted, either. The goal may have been aided by unfair advantage, but if Fucito and Evans weren't in synch it never would have happened.
I don't think this is the fan in me speaking when I say Tamberino's statement hardly takes away from the actions of either player.