Your latest instant replay debate fodder: Omar Gonzalez’s goal that should have been

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Good luck finding a most egregious examples of a goal which should have been allowed. Go to YouTube, find your example, and paste them into the comments below, because it’s going to be hard to top the mistake the officiating crew made Sunday night in Seattle.

Just before halftime, Omar Gonzalez’s header bounces within the goal, leaves a mark on the turf, and leaves green between its landing spot and the white line. The only thing preventing it from hitting the net by a player who was well within the goal. Shot of the nylon flexing at the back of the goal, what more could the linesman possible want?

ESPN’s broadcast team immediately cited the lack of instant replay, and Major League Soccer’s reluctance to jump on board with the technologies now used in England should be noted (especially since, at one time, MLS claimed it was eager to offer itself as guinea pig for replay experiments). But this goal shouldn’t have needed instant replay. It shouldn’t have needed the goalline officials being used more and more often across Europe.

You see officials make that right call on plays much more obscure than this one, and although review (and other kinds of goal line technology) would have given the Galaxy this equalizer, it shouldn’t have been necessary. There’s a minimum level of proficiency we should expect from officials. This falls well within it.

Ultimately, this non-goal didn’t hurt the Galaxy. Had they won in Seattle (as opposed to drawing, 1-1), they’d still be the third seed in the West. They’ve still be matched with Real Salt Lake, and they’re still be playing the second game of their conference semifinal in Utah. With Vancouver’s win, Seattle was never going to fall lower than their current fourth seed. Ultimately (and thankfully), this error has no real effect.

Consider that a bullet dodged. At the time, Gonzalez’s disallowed goal was the difference between LA playing mid-week and the team being able to focus on Real Salt Lake. That it ended up being insignificant should not obscure the problem. It should remind us that MLS shouldn’t have passed on their chance to keep up with the world.