For some MLS fans, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system can feel unpredictable, but St. Louis City SC supporters experienced an especially frustrating moment on Saturday night.

During the first half of St. Louis’ home match against Atlanta United, an early goal for St. Louis was disallowed following a VAR review. The review checked for both offsides and a foul in the buildup to the goal. While offsides were ruled out, the referee team determined there had been a foul, resulting in the goal being overturned.

A clip of referee Filip Dujic announcing this unconventional call quickly went viral on social media. In the video, Dujic first announces no offsides, prompting cheers from the St. Louis crowd. He then gestures for the crowd to quiet down before announcing the foul and the final verdict — no goal, and a direct free kick awarded to Atlanta. The clip gained attention for the surprising decision and Dujic’s slight smirk as he dashed fans’ hopes of an early lead. This moment underscores a new era for MLS VAR.

In April, MLS introduced a new series of rules as the regular season began, which were initially delayed due to a referee lockout between the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) and the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA). Two of these rules address time-wasting related to injury treatment and substitutions, but the third significant change is the introduction of in-stadium VAR announcements.

According to MLS, VAR decisions are now explained and announced by the center referee, with their voice broadcast over the loudspeaker. This change aims to give fans both in the stadium and at home a clearer understanding of the reasons behind key decisions, especially those involving goals and fouls.

Ultimately, St. Louis had to settle for a 1-1 draw. St. Louis midfielder Indiana Vassilev, who had assisted on the disallowed goal, scored in the 50th minute. However, Atlanta equalized 20 minutes later with a strike from forward Daniel Ríos.

The new in-stadium VAR announcements are designed to enhance transparency and understanding of the decision-making process. However, for St. Louis City SC fans, Saturday’s match was a stark reminder of the system’s potential to influence the outcome of the game.



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