MLS testing instant replay can only mean good things

Soccer is the last of the major sports to implement instant replay.

Yes, soccer doesn’t have the natural stops in play to check on whether a play was called correctly or not, but in the 21st century it’s a crime to not use technology to get calls right. I mean, it took until just last year for FIFA and the Premiere League to use goal-line technology, something long over due, and it’s been a smashing success with its efficiency and accuracy.

But there is hope beyond the horizon.

Last week, Major League Soccer announced that it would be doing a trial on using instant replay beginning next year. The system would use a reply official, likely similar to that of college football and would be used to determine penalty kicks, red cards and goals. It would be the first of its kind and will be tested in only non-competitive matches in order to get around having to get FIFA’s approval to begin testing.

This is something that’s long overdue and it’s great that somebody is taking a chance at trying it, even if MLS is having to sort of circumvent the rules to do it.

With today’s athletes, matches move quick. Plays develop fast, players are moving faster and big, game-changing decisions have to be made in a split second. And there’s only three set of eyes that can monitor it all and there’s only one set of eyes that actually make the determination on a call. I don’t envy the referees’ position at all.

While fans across all sports like to rag on officials, it’s important that they are given the all of the tools possible to make the correct call all of the time. This does just that and, most importantly for soccer, it doesn’t seem like this will take up a lot of time like a baseball or football review. Because replay will be only used for those three instances, where there is an obvious stoppage of play and the stoppages of play usually take a while themselves, this won’t break the flow of play at all. That’s the prevailing worry that a lot of people have and it’s the biggest reason replay hasn’t even been tested at major levels in the sport so far.

Now, will this system be perfect? Obviously not. There will be errors, mistakes will be made and the powers that be will work on it and tweak it to make it the best it can be before it’s used in actual matches that count. There’s always going to be errors, but the most important part of this whole development is that MLS is trying, and that should be applauded.

And hopefully this is the start of something great, that the technology revolution in the sport takes off. Hopefully more types of plays are added to what can be reviewed the way baseball did it. These officials do the best that they can do with what they have. It’s only right that the higher ups give them more tools to get the call correct.

Way to go MLS.