Tonight, Orlando City B will be a part of history as the video assistant referee (VAR) program makes its debut in a professional soccer game. The USL, in collaboration with Major League Soccer, will implement the new program at Red Bull Arena when OCB takes on New York Red Bulls II at 7 p.m. The program will be overseen by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
This development comes following the IFAB's second workshop, which took place at Red Bull Arena last month. Following the workshop, MLS and the USL offered the IFAB the opportunity to test their program during USL regular-season games. The trials will take place at New York Red Bulls II's final five home games before expanding to seven other countries that have agreed to participate.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be part of what is a historic moment for our sport," said USL President Jake Edwards in a league release. "The use of the VAR system will help referees make sure that clear and obvious errors are omitted from the game, boosting the integrity of the sport in the future. We are very excited to see the system in live action at Red Bull Arena."
The purpose of the system is to improve communication between the match officials and the video assistant referee. The goal is to reduce avoidable delays during the review process and minimize the impact on the flow and excitement of the game.
"With our team having seen the system in operation throughout this testing phase, we are looking forward to seeing further VAR live experiments used in USL games," said USL Vice President of Competition and Operations Perry Van Der Beck in a USL press release. "This is a groundbreaking moment for soccer as a whole, and we are proud to be part of it as we work alongside MLS and the IFAB on this project."
Workshops and meetings involving the VAR system have been held in the Netherlands and Switzerland in addition to the United States. However, this will be the first time the system will be used in a live game.
After tonight, the live VAR trials will continue at Red Bulls II's games against Louisville City FC (Aug. 19), FC Cincinnati (Aug. 28), the Harrisburg City Islanders (Sept. 7) and FC Montreal (Sept. 17).