MLS is looking to be a leader in making a major change in the game of soccer. FIFA may be slow to implement anything to do with technology and have even been working to block the use of video replay in the game but Major League Soccer is set to go around them and begin testing out a video replay system over the next twelve months.
Their plan to bring video replay in to the game is similar to one that was proposed by the Dutch FA with the key difference being that MLS intends to test it out in friendlies. While the Dutch wanted to test their system out in competitive fixtures MLS doing it in friendlies will allow them to move forward without first getting FIFA's approval.
If MLS are able to go ahead with this plan they would be the first to actually preform a proper test of how video replay could be used in the game. Having proof that it could be implemented successfully would certainly help to add fuel to the fire of those calling for expanded use of replay in the game.
The plan for MLS, according to a report in The Times, is to test the system in friendlies and academy matches. The plan is to focus on reviewing three main areas of the game to limit the potential interruptions to the game. Video officials would be in place to review penalties, red card decisions, and the awarding of goals. All three are the kind of decisions that can alter a match so it makes sense that they would be made the priority for this test.
While the plan in the Netherlands was to give the video official just 15 seconds to look over a play and pass along the needed information to the match official there does not seem to be such a time limit in place for MLS's plan. Their system intends to make use of the natural stoppages in plays that occur after such events take place in a match. That should give the video official up to a minute to review footage and share a decision.
MLS owners are on board with the trial and it could start being tested in non-competitive matches as early as this month. If the testing goes well and the league can get the approval of FIFA we could see video review as early as the 2016 season.
It is certainly a plan worth keeping an eye on as it could once again help to put MLS on the map in World soccer. We have some form of video replay in just about every other sport in North America so it makes sense for MLS to be the league at the forefront of bringing the same to soccer.
The real question will be just how this will work in reality because on paper it seems like it could be a good step forwards for the league and the game. Heck, anything that can help out our terrible officials should be welcomed in MLS.