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Was Clint Dempsey onside for his second goal?

In the end, the Seattle Sounders' second goal on Saturday didn't make much of a difference. Instead of losing 3-1, they lost 3-2. It made for a more exciting end to the match, but in the grand scheme no one will probably remember that Clint Dempsey scored his second goal of the match with about 15 minutes left.

While it may not have turned out to be a game-changing play, there's still much debate on the legitimacy of the goal. And we strive to make you, as a reader of Sounder at Heart, the smartest person in your social circle.

So first, the straight-forward answer: Dempsey was incorrectly judged onside. For the purposes of his discussion, it's fair to say that the play was close enough as to give the referee the benefit of the doubt. But what makes this interesting is that official explanations have not necessarily provided a sufficient answer.

The video, linked above, actually adds to the problem by not only highlighting the wrong moment, but drawing the line in a seemingly random place:

It shows Obafemi Martins being onside, which is important, but ultimately irrelevant to the question we are asking. The green line shows where the actual point of offside would be. It also shows that the assistant referee got this part of the call right.

Also from the video above, we can see just how difficult of a call this was once Martins took his shot. The AR is now a good three to five yards behind the play, which is hardly ideal. To make matters worse, Martins' body is shielding the ball from the AR's view:

As you can see, it's close enough that you could understand why Dempsey may have gotten the benefit of the doubt from the assistant.

But the final confusing part is referee Edvin Jurisevic's explanation to the pool reporter when he was asked about it. Here's the full transcript:

Were Martins or Dempsey offside on the second Seattle goal?

The answer is no, [Obafemi] Martins was judged to be onside and [Clint] Dempsey was judged to be even 
with the ball and they were therefore judged onside on the field.

Was the linesman in position to see it?

The assistant referee was slightly behind the play.

Did you consider the shot a deflection or a play by Steve Clark?

It was judged to be a deliberate save.

According to FIFA rules (page 114, diagram 10), an attacking player should be called offside if they play a ball off a rebound or "deliberate save" and were in an offside position when their teammate last touched the ball:

A "deliberate save" implies that the played ball must have been goal-bound. This diagram clearly shows that Dempsey should have been flagged offside. It ultimately may not have mattered, but at least you can be the person with the answers at your next dinner party.

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