This weekend will bring the debut of video replay in MLS, marking a turning point for the league and the soccer world at large.
Last month, MLS announced that video review would be made available for all matches beginning on August 5 of this year. In its announcement, MLS explained that a fifth member of the match officiating crew, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), will be located in a booth at the stadium and have the ability to “check all plays for potential clear and obvious errors or serious missed incidents in four game-changing situations — goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards, and cases of mistaken identity.”
After years of researching and testing its options, MLS is preparing to debut video review amidst much anticipation. The league is also making itself a major part of a broader trend that is unfolding across soccer. More from the AP:
But MLS has been preparing for this moment for three years, determined to get it right.
“The idea is minimum interference for maximum benefit,” said veteran referee Howard Webb, who is overseeing the league’s implementation of video replay. “We’re not trying to change the way the game is played. We’re trying to enhance it. We’re trying to make it fairer. We’re trying to make sure the outcomes are right.”
Australia’s top-flight A-League used a version of video review on trial earlier this year, and the South Korean K-League Classic began working with it in July.
At least two other top-tier leagues will add a VAR soon. The German Bundesliga will debut video replay for the season opener between Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen on Aug. 18. The Italian Serie A will also introduce its version after adding goal-line technology last season.
Video review will not be limited to the remainder of the regular season. In its announcement, MLS also stated that the technology will be made available during all playoff matches as well as the MLS Cup.
Image courtesy Atlanta United FC.