Referee explains Atlanta United’s disallowed goal

There was controversy in Atlanta United’s 2-0 loss to Sporting KC on Wednesday when an early goal was disallowed by an offsides call on Josef Martinez.

On the play, a pass from Ezequiel Barco was touched by Sporting KC’s Jimmy Medranda backward to Martinez, who was offside. Because the pass was last touched by a defender, it was presumed that it didn’t matter if Martinez was in an offside position when he received the ball.

Martinez spun and hit a left-footed shot into the goal to give Atlanta United a 1-0 lead. As both teams lined up to kick off again, referee Mark Geiger motioned that he wanted to review the play. The review lasted just a few seconds. Geiger came back onto the field and signaled that the goal was being disallowed.

In written comments after the game, Geiger explained the decision.

“The Sporting KC defender reacted by planting his foot in the ground in an attempt to block the ball. The ball hit him, deflecting to the Atlanta United player in an offside position.”

Atlanta United went on to lose 2-0, snapping its eight-game unbeaten streak.

Atlanta United captain Michael Parkhurst said he didn’t understand the ruling.

Martinez, who declined to speak after the game, has been involved in several offside controversies this season. A goal in the home game against Montreal was taken off the board because Martinez, standing offside, was ruled to have interfered with the goalkeeper.

The disallowed goal wasn’t the only controversy in the game.

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan was given a red card in the 34th minute after tackling Khiry Shelton just outside the penalty box.

Neither Parkhurst nor Guzan disagreed with the decision. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez said it was a foul, but didn’t agree with the red card because he said he was running back to cover the goal. That argument implies that Guzan didn’t deny a clear goal-scoring opportunity.