Mark Geiger has been much maligned for his refereeing decisions during the Philadelphia Union's game against the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday, but there was one important call he got completely correct. Geiger's handball call on Earthquakes defender Jason Hernandez was absolutely legitimate, despite the fact that almost anyone watching the game couldn't tell if it was or not.
When the Union's defensive midfielder Amobi Okugo split two San Jose defenders, he pushed the ball to the end line. At almost the last opportunity possible, Okugo attempted to cross the ball towards the center of the Earthquake's box. His cross began its ascent into the center of the eighteen, Hernandez slid to attempt to knock the ball out for a goalkick, or in the very least diffuse a potentially goal threatening situation.
Union and San Jose players waited for the cross to come in, as Okugo looked onward and Hernandez ended up parallel to the edge line of the eighteen's right side. As the ball came towards the end line, it had a slight curl to it and went directly towards the middle of the sliding Hernandez.
At that point, the ball's landing spot on Hernandez cannot be ascertained by someone who was not in sections 133-138. The angle from most of the River End allowed fans to see where the ball actually hit Hernandez, which makes it remarkable that Geiger was able to make the correct call.
Despite Hernandez making sure to keep his arms towards his body, his hands were up. From the River End it was clear that the ball had struck one, if not both, of Hernandez's hands. The section of fans that had a direct look ahead at the play all leaned forward, slapping their forearms to appeal to Geiger to make the call. Okugo rose up, doing the same.
Geiger pointed to the penalty spot right away and Sebastien Le Toux sent Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch the wrong way and gave the man down Union a 1-0 win.
After the jump, what the play looked like for a TV viewer.
Here's how it looked on TV: