MLS Has Proven That VAR Won’t Be The End Of Debating Terrible Decisions

The Video Assistant Referee system is now extensively in use around the globe, most notably in Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and Major League Soccer. MLS’s time with the use of video replay dates back to August 5, and it’s had the likes of Kaka and Clint Dempsey sent off. It’ll be in use at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but there are still pockets of resistance.

One of the most common fan criticisms you’ll hear is the pub argument. “Football’s all about going down to the pub after the match, having a pint and debating the referee’s calls!” That's kind of weird. Anyway, I’m here to tell you that that’s not the case with VAR. In fact, the contentious calls are only magnified.

Take, for example, Thursday night’s MLS Western Conference Semifinal between Seattle and Vancouver. With the scores level 0-0, and a thrilling 0-0 on aggregate, Nicolas Lodeiro played Nouhou Tolo into the Vancouver area with an excellent pass.

Nouhou’s pace got the better of Jake Nerwinski and the Whitecaps defender pulled on a handful of jersey before attempting an awkward tackle. According to Stu Holden it was 100% a penalty. According to Taylor Twellman it was 100% a penalty. According to Alexi Lalas it was a penalty.

But the call from the VAR didn’t come. Nerwinski stayed down on the ground for an extended period of time with still no indication from referee Baldomero Toledo that he was communicating with the VAR. Finally, Nerwinksi needed to be substituted and Toledo dramatically pointed to the television set. VAR is supposed to be instantaneous — it took about three minutes for this to happen.

Toledo is a referee known for his personality. And by personality I mean he usually fights fire with fire when it comes to players acting like d*ckheads. He doesn’t appreciate any backtalk, and he certainly didn’t appear to appreciate the VAR’s decision to have him take a second look.

He watched the replay once, shook his head and was about to turn away before deciding to take a couple more looks because he's probably required to. Toledo just wasn't having it.

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