JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — According to New York Red Bulls coach Mike Petke, MLS intends to make sure that goalkeepers spend a little less time with the ball this season.
During his club’s 2-1 preseason win over the Philadelphia Union at EverBank Field on Wednesday night, Petke saw what he said was a first for his career: the awarding of an indirect free kick without a goalkeeper first being warned for time-wasting.
The incident occurred in the 29th minute, when New York’s Luis Robles came out and scooped up a loose ball in the penalty area. When referee Chris Penso (pictured at right) determined Robles had held the ball beyond the six-second time limit, he called for an indirect free kick that resulted in a Jack McInerney goal.
“It was an interesting call that got them their goal, but that was par for the course,” Petke said. “They said it’s an MLS initiative this year to crack down on goalkeepers taking too long. Instead of giving him a warning, I guess they took it really literally and just called it right away and gave him a free kick.”
The rule has long existed and is part of FIFA’s Laws of the Game, which state that an indirect free kick will result if a goalkeeper “controls the ball with his hands for more than six seconds before releasing it from his possession.”
Warnings are a common occurrence, particularly late in matches, but when asked if he had ever seen a kick awarded without a warning, Petke said: “Never.”
On the other side, Philadelphia coach John Hackworth said Robles was warned “a couple of times,” and that “it was a lot longer than six seconds.”
He added: “If that’s what the MLS is going to call, as a coach, I would rather them start calling it in preseason so we can get used to that kind of thing.”
SoccerWire.com has submitted a request for further information about this situation to MLS and PRO (Professional Referee Organization).