Video review is coming to MLS and here's what you need to know

Major League Soccer

Video review is coming to MLS and here's what you need to know

Major League Soccer fans should prepare themselves to try to sound like rules experts because video review is coming to the league this weekend.

While goal line technology has been used in international FIFA tournaments and some of the top leagues in Europe, video review beyond determining if a ball went over the line or not has begun seeping into the game around the world as well. For MLS, the video assistant referee (VAR) starts now that the All-Star Game in Chicago has come and gone.

The system has been tested in the USL for the psat year and was in use the Homegrown Game at Toyota Park on Tuesday. In that game, VAR was used to determine if a collision involving Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez should have resulted in a red card. The call stood as originally called with no foul being given.

“We’ve always been a proponent of using technology to make our game better,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said is a press conference Wednesday before the All-Star Game. “If it was up to us, as opposed to the governing bodies of the sport, we’d have way more technology in our game than we even have today.”

Howard Webb, a retired English referee who reffed in two World Cups including the final in 2010, is managing the VAR program. His succinct catchphrase for the desired goal of VAR is “maximum benefit for minimum interference.”

Webb wants the flow of games to remain while having the ability to correct clear and important errors. The video assistant referee is watching each match and is able to signal the head official on the field that a play should be reviewed. The ref would then head to a monitor just outside the field ot play to look at the play in question. Even after review, the final decision remains with the head referee.

“This is about trying to correct errors that are made,” Garber said. “It’s not about trying to correct judgment.”

There are four types of calls that the new system allows to go under the scrutiny of video review: goals, penalty kicks, red cards and mistaken identity.


When there are “clear and obvious” errors in the goal itself or in the buildup to the goal, the play can be reviewed. This includes goal line decisions, a handball or a foul that aided the goal scoring team or an offside call that was missed. This goes both for goals that should have counted and weren’t and goals that were counted and shouldn’t have been.

Penalty kicks

This is similar to goals except for penalty kicks. Penalties that should have been awarded can be reviewed and given. Same goes for penalties that were given and shouldn’t have been.

Red cards

Direct red cards are also something that can be reviewed under video review. It has to be a straight red card for it to be reviewed. A second yellow card that results in a red card is not reviewable. One additional note is that if no card is given and video review is called to look at a potential red card, the ref may give a yellow card instead. Yellow cards or potential yellows are not reviewable.

Mistaken identity

This is the most straightforward of the four categories. If one player commits a foul that results in a card and the ref gives the card to the wrong player, video review can help to fix such situations.

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves


Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

The MLS offseason doesn't take long to get in gear.

The Fire traded Arturo Alvarez earlier on Sunday, the same day which the list of protected players was to be announced ahead of Tuesday's expansion draft for Los Angeles FC.

LAFC will take five players in the expansion draft, which is set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A team can only lose one player. Each team can protect 11 players and homegrown players aren't eligible for selection. For the Fire that means Drew Conner and Djordje Mihailovic can't be taken.

The Fire protected David Accam, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic, Juninho, Matt Polster, Richard Sanchez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Solignac and Brandon Vincent.

While Sanchez and Schweinsteiger are out of contract, the Fire have said they are negotiating with both players. Protecting Juninho is a bit of a surprise because it implies that the Fire have some intention of keeping him for next year, or at least keeping his rights to be traded.

The Fire left David Arshakyan, Jorge Bava, Brandt Bronico, Stefan Cleveland, Jorge Corrales, Michael de Leeuw, Christian Dean, Daniel Johnson and Matt Lampson unprotected. De Leeuw would be a worthwhile pickup for LA if it thinks he is worth it after his ACL tear suffered late in the season.

With only five players being selected it's fairly likely no Fire players are taken by LAFC, but it's arguable that de Leeuw will end up being one of the best five players available. The 31-year-old tied for the team lead with eight assists and scored three goals.

Fire open offseason by sending Arturo Alvarez home


Fire open offseason by sending Arturo Alvarez home

And they're off.

MLS Cup finished just last night with Toronto completing arguably the best season in league history, but the offseason doesn't wait long to get going. The Fire took advantage of Sunday's short trade window before Los Angeles FC's expansion draft takes place on Tuesday by trading Arturo Alvarez to the Houston Dynamo.

Alvarez, a Houston native, gets to go home and could finish his career with the Dynamo. The Fire received a second-round pick in the 2019 draft.

Alvarez, 32, made 55 regular season MLS appearances with the Fire in two years. He had five goals and nine assists in 2016, leading the team in assists. This past season he saw his minutes get nearly cut in half although he did regain a regular spot in the team towards the end of the season and finished with three goals and two assists.

“Arturo had perhaps his two best years wearing our red and we appreciate all that he gave to our club,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez said in the team's statement. “We saw this as a chance to allow him to return home while opening up his minutes for some other players.”

The question is which players Rodriguez is referring to. Alvarez played primarily at right midfield, frequently cutting inside with his dangerous left foot. Two players come to mind as possible fill-ins already on the roster: Daniel Johnson and Brandt Bronico.

Johnson was the Fire's first-round pick in the 2017 draft and showed flashes of ability, but dealt with injuries through much of the season and made eight substitute appearances totaling 125 minutes. He is a wide player, but was the opposite of Alvarez, typically playing on the left and cutting in on his right foot.

Bronico was the 2017 third-round pick and made only four sub appearances adding up to 53 minutes played. With such limited action it was difficult to gauge whether he could be a wide midfielder or should be played centrally. Either way, with Alvarez gone and Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic out for the first few months of 2018 with ACL tears, both Johnson and Bronico will have opportunities the way the roster is currently constructed.

More news is due later today with the expansion draft set for Tuesday. The Fire will announce the 11 players they are protecting. Homegrown players (Drew Conner and Mihailovic) won't need to be protected. The Fire have 17 others players that will be eligible for the expansion draft.