No one can escape the watchful eye of video replay, not even reigning MLS MVP David Villa.
Villa, of New York City FC, was ejected from a preseason match vs. the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night after video replay showed him giving defender A.J. DeLeGarza a slap to the face.
Article continues below ...
The replay shows that the slap itself wasn’t very violent, but the hand-to-face contact is clearly a red card nonetheless. The first official initially gave Villa a yellow card, but after the video review he issued the red card.
With that, the Spanish striker joined the ranks of other players who have been penalized during the MLS preseason, thanks to video replay trials. Diego Chara of the Portland Timbers was the first to be ejected when he saw straight red two weeks ago for a high elbow that initially went unnoticed until a video replay. And whether fans like it or not, this is what the MLS regular season will probably look like by later this summer.
MLS commissioner Don Garber has said he plans to implement video replay for official matches after the MLS All-Star break. The technology will be used for goals, penalty decisions, red cards and cases of mistaken identity. PRO, which supplies referees to MLS, hired Howard Webb as their head of video assistant referee operations earlier this month in preparation.
The system MLS has been testing during preseason seems to take longer than one the league has previously proposed that would allow a video assistant referee to communicate what the video shows to the field referee. In that process, the first official would listen to the video assistant referee’s findings but make a call himself based on what he’s told.
In the current system being tested, the field referee goes to the sideline and reviews video himself after communicating to the video assistant referee. It remains to be seen whether the process MLS is using will still change or not. Under FIFA’s video replay rules, both methods are allowed.
The MLS regular season starts on March 3 (9:30 p.m. ET on FS1). The MLS All-Star Game is on Aug. 2 (FS1).