Turns out the ball kid in Portland was in the right.
In the 85th minute of Portland's 3-0 win over Chivas USA, with Portland leading 2-0, the ball kid between the benches refused to give up the ball to Goats defender Mario de Luna. But referee Silviu Petrescu had signaled a throw-in for the Timbers and the ball kid was just doing his job.
MLS guidelines for ball kids indicate that they need to take their cue from referees and "the ball must be given to the appropriate team." Here's the full excerpt from the league manual:
WATCH: Ball kid incident in Portland
“They shall watch for signals from the referee/match commissioner/field supervisor or ball kid supervisor, to whom they are responsible throughout the game. The ball must be given to the appropriate team, as signaled by the referee (the referee will point his arm in the direction of the goal that the team is attacking to indicate which team has possession).”
After being denied, De Luna made contact with the ball kid to ensure he gained possession of the ball. The Chivas USA player received a caution card from Petrescu for his actions.
And a league spokesman confirmed the interpretation of the guidelines which the ball kid was following.
"It's the assessment of the MLS Operations Department that the ball kid acted appropriately because the referee was pointing in the direction of Portland," a league spokesman told MLSsoccer.com. "The ball kid was following instructions."
The guidelines for ball kids do not specifically address situations when a player makes a request for a ball, but the League is considering additional instructions along those lines.
In the meantime, we'll see if De Luna will be facing additional sanctions from the MLS Disciplinary Committee. In June 2012, San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch was suspended one game for "aggressively retrieving a ball" against Kansas City.