Fire

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

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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.

Goals

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.

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

After failing to qualify to play in this summer’s World Cup, the United States’ pain was alleviated on Wednesday morning after earning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

But why is this bittersweet for Chicagoans?

Even though the World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada in eight years, matches will not be played in Chicago.

The city chose not to be one of the potential hosts of the world’s largest sporting event, despite using Soldier Field as a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

One of the reasons could be the low seating capacity of Chicago’s historic stadium. Soldier Field would be the second smallest spot out of any World Cup host option, seating only 61,500. The massive competition also draws enormous crowds, possibly causing logistical concerns for a highly-populated place like Chicago.

Ten out of 17 different cities in the United States will be gifted the opportunity to host 2026 World Cup games. The list includes Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Nashville (Nissan Stadium), which are the closest domestic locations to Chicago.

The bright side is that fans from the Midwest won’t have to travel very far to see a match. For bigtime soccer fans in the Chicago area, having the chance to attend world-class matches in United States could be exciting enough.

Out of the 80 games taking place in 2026, 60 of them will be located in the United States.

Can this bid with Mexico and Canada at least help the relevancy of U.S. Soccer in the Chicago area?

The U.S. men’s national team missed this year’s World Cup at a very unideal time, just when it seemed like the sport of soccer was gaining more and more popularity in the United States.

Plus, the United States might not even get an automatic bid to play in their own World Cup as hosts.

But becoming a member of the first trio in FIFA history to host the World Cup, coupled with the expanded 48-team field in 2026, could help the United States retain the fans they have across the nation and around Chicago.

The World Cup might not be coming to the Windy City, but Chicagoans will still have something to be excited about in 2026 with games being played right around the corner. If the U.S. can qualify for the upcoming World Cups, having the tournament in North America will be much sweeter.

Until then, the 2018 World Cup kicks off this Thursday night in Russia.

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

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@JTHAZZARD

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.