The New York Red Bulls' second-half winner in last Sunday's Hudson River Derby against New York City FC has been a topic of contention all week, and on Friday the head of the Professional Referees Organization (PRO) weighed in.
Speaking to Pro Soccer USA's Glenn Crooks, PRO general manager Howard Webb said the officiating crew incorrectly handled the communication around the Red Bulls' 62nd minute goal.
After NYCFC defender Alex Callens launched a high clearance towards the corner flag, assistant referee Corey Rockwell signaled for a corner kick. However, referee Alan Kelly overruled Rockwell and awarded a throw-in, which the Red Bulls quickly took to catch their rivals by surprise. Two passes later Danny Royer had headed the ball into the net for the deciding goal in their 2-1 win.
Following the play and after the game, NYCFC took issue with the refereeing crew for not communicating that the call had been changed. Kelly indicated to the pool reporter that he had "indicated verbally" his decision to overrule Rockwell and change the call to a throw-in. Though Webb noted to Pro Soccer USA that "there was a verbal indication to the assistant," he also followed up by saying that "there was no communication from the referee to the players."
Webb, a longtime Premier League official who refereed the 2010 World Cup final, also had a couple pointers for both the center and assistant referee in that situation.
“With hindsight, the referee should have stopped the game at that point and indicated to everybody to give clarity that the restart was going to be a throw-in,” he said.
Webb also said that the assistant should not have flagged for a corner in the first place “because it was always going to be difficult for him to know whether it was a corner kick or a throw-in because the ball more or less went over his head.”