#SKCvCLB: Defences on top, VAR must stop

Last night’s game between Sporting Kansas City and Columbus Crew was a meeting of two sides who have had fantastic starts to the campaign in their respective conferences. Unfortunately, the game was overshadowed by refereeing and video review controversy.

I’ll start with a positive…

After the game reached the 10th minute mark, Columbus Crew set a new club record. Zack Steffen and the defenders in front of him reached a run of 415 minutes without conceding a goal. And as the game last night finished 0-0, the Crew are on a run of five games without allowing a goal. 

Steffen is firmly establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers Major League Soccer has to offer. Putting in these consistent performances is proving that he is, in my opinion, the perfect option to be a long-term number one for the USMNT.

Sporting KC’s Tim Melia is also up there with the best in MLS, and he proved that last night when he saved Gyasi Zardes’ spot kick. Melia gave the penalty away when he brought down Zardes, but he certainly made up for his error. 

Besides the penalty, there isn’t much else to talk about but the farcical officiating that was to follow. Columbus Crew star, Federico Higuain, was sent off on the verge of half time for a lunge on SKC’s Roger Espinoza which you can see below. (Credit: TotalMLS)

I don’t have an issue with this decision, I think the referee got this one spot on. It was a high challenge from Pipa and his studs were on show. I keep hearing the argument that he didn’t make contact, but that is deemed irrelevant 100% of the time in this situation. If you make a dangerous challenge, even if there’s no intent or zero contact, you will still be given your marching orders.

The decision that came later on was one of the most bizarre I have ever seen on a soccer field, and there is no excuse for getting this wrong. Crew’s Cristian Martinez appeared to throw a punch, or a slap in the direction of SKC’s Seth Sinovic.

In front of the eyes of Video Review, this would be a quick and easy decision, right? Wrong. Incredibly, referee Robert Sibiga failed to issue a red card. 

I have always been an advocate for VAR. I believe the game needs it but that decision last night, amongst others we have seen this week, is making me lose faith in the whole thing. How on earth can you get a decision as big as that wrong? The man who’s job it is to run Video Review, what is he watching? How can a player who’s committed violent conduct still be on the pitch? Zlatan Ibrahimovic must have been at home tearing his hair out.

It seemed to work very well last year, and I was impressed. However, we can’t carry on if it continues to be like this. 

It’s all very ridiculous and many people, fans and players alike, are sick of the system and it’s consistent failure this year. You can see reaction from the world of Major League Soccer below.

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