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PRO says late penalty call unjustified during Orlando City loss in Columbus

Orlando City defender Yoshimar Yotun (19) dribbles the ball during the second half against the Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) released a statement Tuesday regarding the penalty decision in the 86th minute of Orlando City’s 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday. 

“The referee awarded a penalty kick after contact from Orlando City SC defender RJ Allen on Crew SC forward Patrick Mullins,” the statement said. “PRO believes the minimal amount of contact between the players did not justify this decision.”

Referee Silviu Petrescu awarded the penalty when the Lions were up 2-1. The Lions immediately protested — left back Mohamed El-Munir was booked for dissent — but Crew striker Gyasi Zardes converted from the spot and leveled the match, which the Crew went on to win

Petrescu made the motion for video review twice – once before showing El-Munir a yellow card, then again afterward — but he ultimately chose not to use the monitor on the side of the field to watch the play again.

The statement said the Video Assistant Referee “did not appropriately recommend a video review.” 

“PRO holds its officials accountable and takes appropriate action when necessary,” the statement said. “In addition, PRO evaluates the performances of every match official, and is taking steps to continually minimize these types of errors through rigorous training and testing protocols.”

Orlando City (7-12-1, 22 points) plays New York City FC on Thursday. 

“I think, for me, it’s how much time do I want to waste over something like that?” Orlando City coach James O’Connor said. “You can’t change it, you can’t make any difference to what’s happened. For me, it’s very much a case of sitting down, analyzing the positives [from the loss], analyzing what we need to do better and then looking to the New York game.” 

Here’s the full statement from PRO

“The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) acknowledges that an officiating error occurred during the 86th minute of the match between Columbus Crew SC and Orlando City SC on July 21.

The referee awarded a penalty kick after contact from Orlando City SC defender RJ Allen on Crew SC forward Patrick Mullins. PRO believes the minimal amount of contact between the players did not justify this decision.

Video Review protocol requires that all reviewable incidents are checked and analyzed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for clear and obvious errors or serious missed incidents. The VAR checked this penalty kick decision, but did not accurately identify the on-field call as a clear and obvious error based on the minimal contact between the two players. Therefore, the VAR did not appropriately recommend a video review.

PRO holds its officials accountable and takes appropriate action when necessary. In addition, PRO evaluates the performances of every match official, and is taking steps to continually minimize these types of errors through rigorous training and testing protocols.”

Orlando City coach, players react to questionable penalty awarded to Columbus Crew

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