In their weekly Inside Video Review segment on YouTube, PRO Referees’ Manager of video Review Greg Barkey breaks down several plays from Week 21 of the Major League Soccer season. The first play they reviewed was the Roger Espinoza red card from the game between Sporting Kansas City and New York City FC.
Espinoza was originally issued a second yellow card (his first yellow came in the 45th minute). However, after video review, the call on the field was changed to a red card. Since Espinoza had already left the field, referee Dave Gantar pulled over Sporting KC captain Matt Besler and explained the decision to him.
A few points worth noting. First, it’s clear Espinoza deserved a red for the dangerous challenge. Initially when I saw it live I missed it and was shocked. But upon further review, it’s clearly the right call.
Second, and the part that initially confused me, was that Espinoza had clearly won the ball. But to do so, he ended up going through the man afterwards, which is why it was a red card. I found it interesting that the VAR had clearly seen the violent conduct but then was asking the same question about if Espinoza had gotten the ball, as though that would make a difference (around the 0:56 mark). It’s as though they don’t know the rules, just like I initially didn’t.
Below is the full video. Espinoza’s play is the first in the video and runs just past the two minute mark.
Espinoza will serve his red card suspension during today’s Seattle Sounders game. However, he did play a full 90 minutes for the Swope Park Rangers on Saturday. As for Espinoza, some had speculated that he would receive an additional game (like Krisztian Nemeth earlier in 2019) for the severity of his foul. As of this writing, nothing has been done by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. However, it’s possible an announcement could come next week. MLS usually makes these announcements the Thursday before a game.