LAFC's controversial opening goal in El Trafico: Was the ball in or out?

Was the ball in or out of play?

It’s a straightforward question, but one that’s created some controversy after the latest El Trafico, which LAFC won 2-0 to further sink the LA Galaxy’s Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoff hopes.

The play up for debate, of course, is Danny Musovski’s opener in the 58th minute. The moment at the heart of the controversy occurred when center back Eddie Segura was ruled to have kept the ball in play after Eduard Atuesta nearly deflected it out for a corner kick. That started an LAFC counterattack, which was capped off by a Diego Rossi through ball and Musovski’s chip over an onrushing Jonathan Klinsmann.

The sequence got dissected by @OffsideModeling, a Twitter account that creates 3D models of close decisions and that is often referenced during MLSsoccer.com’s Instant Replay video segments. Check out the breakdown below, which deemed the ball to be inbounds by 1/4th of an inch.

As @OffsideModeling notes, the on-field call is extremely tight – he judged it to be within one inch of the endline. The goal was also checked in the replay booth and ultimately confirmed the on-field call.

The play was particularly pivotal, as the Galaxy were actually holding firm after center back Giancarlo Gonzalez was shown a red card in the 25th minute. LA midfielder Sacha Kljestan voiced his displeasure with the call, feeling they should’ve had a corner kick. 

"I won’t say the VAR call changed maybe the result of the game, but it definitely changes momentum,” Kljestan said afterward. “I can’t look back and say we would’ve won that game or we would’ve tied that game had they not scored the first goal, but when you look at images after and see that the ball is clearly out of bounds and that’s the start of their attacking phase of play. In my opinion, the first goal should have been called back for out of bounds and I think it would’ve been a corner kick for us."

Regardless, the margin was incredibly slim on Segura's effort. And it's only added to El Trafico's lore, with some of the more pivotal moments in this rivalry found here.