3. VAR to the rescue?
Atlanta supporters have an interesting relationship with VAR. There have been a few goals taken away from Atlanta during the course of this season, so most fans are quick to hate VAR and all that comes with it. Of course, VAR has saved the day a couple of times at this point. Wednesday night may have been the biggest save of all.
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Chris Wondolowski found the back of the net to put the final dagger in the game. With San Jose up 4-1, things looked dire for the Five Stripes. However, the head referee was called to the VAR booth and subsequently came back to wave off Wondolowski’s goal. All of a sudden, Martinez was lining up for a penalty kick. He converted, and the game was immediately changed.
In hindsight, VAR worked correctly in this situation. A San Jose player committed a blatant handball in the box, but there wasn’t a stoppage in the game until Wondolowski scored his goal. This meant one minute and forty seconds went by, so the penalty felt surprising. The referees did the right thing in waiting until the next stoppage in the game, it was just unfortunate that the stoppage happened to be a goal for San Jose.
It felt uncomfortable and surprising, but the call on the handball and its penalty were correct, and thankfully steered the ship for an Atlanta win.