Bruce Arena and the Video Assistant Referee have a long history. Another chapter was written of this love story on Saturday night as the New England Revolution blew a 2-0 lead and were defeated by Real Salt Lake 3-2.
While the first goal can be chalked up to mistakes by the back line and RSL taking advantage of the elements, Arena has reason to be upset with the second goal.
Pablo Ruiz connected with Justin Glad on a free kick in the 88th minute to tie the game. Immediately Revolution players began to protest and the replay showed why. The ball was clearly moving before it was struck by Ruiz.
VAR was not consulted and RSL had tied the game up.
“Yeah. The ball was moving,” Arena said. “They looked at it and they said it didn’t move. We have the most inefficient use of VAR, probably, in the world. We looked at it. The ball was moving. Having said that though, they still got the goal and all of that, but there’s no point in having VAR if they can’t look at that tape and make that decision. What can I say, you know?”
A pool report was conducted with officials by Frank Dell’Apa of the Boston Globe after the match and officiating team offered their insight when asked why play wasn’t stopped and why VAR wasn’t used.
“At the taking of the free kick, the focus of the officiating team is primarily on the block of players challenging in the penalty area,” said the crew. “There is negligible movement of the ball just prior to it being kicked however this was not seen by the officiating team.”
“This incident is outside the VAR Protocol and the VAR is not permitted to intervene.”
Arena wasn’t done there. With two yellow cards being given to the Revolution in the span of just over 10 minutes, the head coach mentioned after the match that he didn’t agree with how the game was officiated.
“This referee in the beginning of the game didn’t do a good job in terms of issuing cards,” Arena said.
Arena has long been at odds with how VAR is used in MLS and after Saturday night it’s hard not to agree with him.