Atlanta United head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Photo: John Bazemore/AP
Photo: John Bazemore/AP

Atlanta United’s Martino unloads on refs, VAR

For the second time in a month, Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino criticized MLS referees and VAR.

His recent complaints came after his team lost to Minnesota United 3-2 on Tuesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a game that featured several controversial plays.

In the first half, Atlanta United midfielder Hector Villalba was chopped down by Minnesota United’s Collin Martin. The ball was already 5 yards past Martin when he came in and took out Villalba. The play happened right in front of Martino and Atlanta United’s bench.

Martin received a yellow card. Referee Armando Villareal didn’t use VAR on that play. 

Martino said it was “absolutely” a red.

“I think everyone in the stadium thought so, even though we are all supporting Atlanta,” Martino said. “You didn’t even need to see video replay to see that it was red.”

According to VAR guidelines, VAR can analyze if “was showing or not showing a straight a red card a clear and obvious error.”

Martino then added this zinger: “That foul on Tito (Villalba) was a really important play in this match. I think we are going to need not just video replay to manage the ref, but someone who manages the replay to check on that as well because they both missed it.”

Martino said he wishes the league would do away with VAR, which was just instituted in August, because he said he believes the refs are avoiding making calls. He said he thinks that they are waiting on confirmation from VAR before calling fouls.

“I would like to see them take the initiative and make the decision on the field,” he said.

There were several controversial plays in the game. Atlanta United’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was twice hit in the head by Minnesota’s Brent Kallman. Neither resulted in a foul or card.

Atlanta United goalkeeper Kyle Reynish was given a red card for a late tackle of Minnesota United’s Abu Danladi in the 60th minute. Villareal used VAR to confirm the red card. Martino said he didn’t need to.

Following the team’s 7-0 win against New England in September, a game in which two Revs players were given red cards, Martino said that VAR was “boring.”

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