It is a big day for folks that want video replay in Major League Soccer. MLS has received approval from the International Football Association Board (The IFAB) to conduct Video Assistant Referee experiments in select competitive matches during the remainder of the United Soccer League (USL) regular season.
According to a press release, MLS and the USL offered The IFAB an opportunity to further test communication between the Video Assistant Referee and the on-field referee through trials in select USL regular-season matches. These trials are important preparation for future experiments that will take place in competitions across the seven countries confirmed for participation in the VAR program, as well as in select FIFA competitions.
The first test in a live game will take place tonight. MLS will conduct the first Video Assistant Referee (VAR) experiment in a competitive match tonight when the New York Red Bulls II host Orlando City B at Red Bull Arena in a USL regular-season league match.
VAR experiments will be conducted in a total of five Red Bulls II games. Matches against Louisville City FC (Aug. 19), FC Cincinnati (Aug. 28), the Harrisburg City Islanders (Sept. 7) and FC Montreal (Sept. 17) are also set to use the VAR protocol.
The intention is for The IFAB to make a decision in 2018 or 2019 on whether or not video assistant referees should be introduced in football.
Testing still has a ways to go before we see it in any MLS matches. The league has come under a lot of pressure this season for video replay after games like the one FC Dallas lost in Kansas City earlier this summer and more recently in a match between LA and New York that saw two missed calls for penalty kicks.