On that Columbus Crew penalty kick

Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sport

I know I shouldn't dwell on D.C. United's season opener. I need to move on. Nevertheless, I seek this learned community's analysis of the foul that resulted in the penalty kick in the Columbus game.

PRO has posted its own analysis, praising the referee. It's PRO's selected "play of the week." PRO says the foul was called on Perry Kitchen for holding and pulling down the Crew's Michael Parkhurst.

PRO's training and development manager says of the penalty call: "This is a good example of the application of the initiative, as in the cold light of day when we see the replay, we are not puzzled by the awarding of the PK..."


Here is the video:

The announcers' commentary has to be ignored. Turn the sound off so that it doesn't bias you unfairly against Kitchen. Look at the footage, which is provided in two angles, neither of which are ideal.

I've watched it repeatedly.

First, is it holding? I'm not sure if PRO is referring to a holding by Kitchen on Parkhurst separate and apart from the alleged pulldown. The referee is clearly reacting to Parkhurst falling to the ground. Up to that point, he is calm and nonchalant about everything that's happening in the box -- which looks like any corner kick situation -- jostling for position by all sides. As for any holding by Kitchen before Parkhust collapses to the ground, the problem is that Parkhurst has simply not been held. Kitchen does not prevent Parkhurst from moving past or around him. Parkhurst starts out behind Kitchen (with Kitchen between him and the goal) at the start of the play but quickly gets around him -- and is IN FRONT of Kitchen by the time he falls down. If Kitchen was trying to hold Parkhurst, he wasn't very successful. He was zero successful.

Second, is it a pull down? Parkhurst falls to the ground, but I daresay he dove. If he did not dive, Kitchen has the strongest fingers and wrist in sports. Not even Lawrence Taylor could have brought someone down at that angle with what looks like, at most, the side of a hand. Kitchen's body is physically behind Parkhurst's, so he could not have used the weight of his body to pull Parkhurst down. Parkhurst's knees are buckling fully ahead of where Kitchen is. At best, the "pull down" would have been all in the wrist, and from behind. An amazing, superhuman feat.

What am I not getting here?

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