Carson, CA. – LA Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham was just getting ready to talk to a group of reporters following Saturday’s frustrating 3-2 loss to New York Red Bulls in front of a crowd of 26,704 at StubHub Center when he got the attention of teammate Ashley Cole.
Bingham asked the veteran left back if he was going to “cover him” and Cole said he would.
“Ash,” Bingham said, “help me out.”
To which Cole responded, “I’ll pay your fine.”
Bingham’s bank account was certain to be a little lighter following his diatribe on Major League Soccer’s Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system that upheld one game-changing offside call on a goal by Zlatan Ibrahimovic – “Ibra was a half-yard onside,” Bingham said — correctly ruled Ola Kamara to be offside on an apparent goal in the ninth minute but somehow did not overturn a hand ball called on the Galaxy’s Dave Romney that led to a winning penalty kick by the Red Bulls’ Alejandro (Kaku) Romero Gamarra in the 84th minute.
Romney showed one a reporter a welt on his back where a crossing pass from New York’s Kemar Lawrence had hit him on the decisive play. Romney said Galaxy teammate Ema Boateng even took a picture of it.
“I think the idea of VAR is correct, it just needs to be honed,” Romney said. “This is just not good enough.”
I Mean it's a blurry video but that looks like it came off the back to me. pic.twitter.com/fzGzvOGY3k
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) April 29, 2018
VAR was introduced after last season’s All-Star Game and in 137 regular-season games there were just under 1,400 checks, with VAR recommending nearly 50 reviews. Of those, close to 40 decisions were overturned.
The VAR’s job is to watch monitors, quickly identify potential missed calls, watch replays and communicate to the center referee over a headset. VAR is used for goal-scoring situations, potential red-card decisions, penalty kicks and incorrect identity on red and yellow cards.
The 2017-18 season saw several top leagues use the system, but it was recently voted down in the English Premier League. If Bingham has anything to say about it, it would be banned from MLS as well.
“I think today was absolutely horrendous,” he said. “The ball hits Dave square in the back … there’s a ball mark there. They say they review it, but who’s reviewing it? So you’re saying three people missed it? The VAR missed it, the center (referee) missed it and the VAR guy missed it? If that’s the case they shouldn’t ref another game this year. That’s just incompetence.
“If this is what’s going to happen we might as well take it away. The EPL (English Premier League) voted against it and we might as well follow in their footsteps at this point. I think it’s a complete waste of time.
“What’s the point?” he continued. “We’ve had five goals called back, I think” – actually, it’s four – “and two of them are blatantly onside. How are you reviewing that? Is it two guys who are incompetent can’t see it?
“That’s the best question.”
Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid, who saw his team score its first goals following consecutive 2-0 losses, didn’t exactly speak glowingly of VAR, either.
“The VAR I just see here they’ve got like an assistant video guy, another video guy, a replay supervisor, a replay operator, a replay operator assistant, an assistant to a review assistant, and the guy in charge of it,” he said.
“My understanding of the rule is you don’t overturn it unless it’s clear and unequivocal. You watch Ibra’s goal (in the 78th minute), which would have made it 3-2, and the linesman ends up calling offside. If you watch a replay of the linesman he almost drops the flag, he was so nervous putting the flag up. If he lets the goal stand they don’t overturn it the other way.
“He calls offside, they feel it’s not clear,” he went on. “But when you watch the replay he’s clearly onside. I don’t understand the PK, but it’s harder to see that on replays.
“I think they got the first one right, where they called Kamara off(side). I’ve always said I’m a fan of VAR, but I don’t know if I am anymore.”
Oof. Glad I'm not making that call but I THINK (given camera angles and timing etc) that he may have gotten that one right actually. pic.twitter.com/vj2cSFVmrm
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) April 29, 2018
Sebastian Lletget, talking about Ibrahimovic’s goal that was called back thanks to VAR, also criticized the system but chose his words more carefully.
“The officials got a big call wrong, and it’s happened too many times,” he said. “It’s such a big call. He should know … it’s going to make the game 3-2. It’s a game-changing call, and I think he got it wrong.
“It’s disappointing, but there’s nothing we can do. We just have to look at what we can do better and hopefully they get it right upstairs.”
Josh Guesman contributed to this report.