Alex Morgan, Fans on Twitter Slam VAR as USWNT Falls to England in Friendly

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVOctober 7, 2022

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 07: Millie Bright of England celebrates victory with teammate Rachel Daly following their side's victory in the Women's International Friendly match between England and USA at Wembley Stadium on October 07, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Soccer players, experts and fans trashed VAR review following the United States women's national team's controversial 2-1 loss to England in an international friendly at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday.

In a battle of teams that hadn't lost in more than a year, England benefited from two questionable VAR calls to hand the Americans their first defeat since falling 1-0 to Canada in the Olympic semifinals in August 2021.

England's Lauren Hemp and USA's Sophia Smith traded goals in the first half-hour of the match, but The Lionesses took the lead in the 33rd minute on a penalty-kick goal by Georgia Stanway.

The PK was given after Hailie Mace was shown a yellow card for a high kick to the face of England's Lucy Bronze in the box:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

A penalty was given to England after a VAR review of this sequence <a href="https://t.co/YicGKAm6ev">pic.twitter.com/YicGKAm6ev</a>

Strangely, a review of the kick wasn't called until a couple of minutes after the foul. It was also up for interpretation if a penalty was deserved, given that Bronze ducked her head:

Charlotte Patterson @kirbyhazard

I’m glad we scored from it, but not sure as to whether or not it was a penalty to England. Bronze’s head was low, no intent from the defender and just trying to clear the ball, but it is a high foot

It was also pointed out that no VAR review was called for when Team USA's Smith got hauled down in the box previously:

Jason Anderson @JasonDCsoccer

VAR showing a pretty clear case for a penalty to England on the high boot from Mace on Bronze. Hard to argue IMO.<br><br>That said, Smith didn't get this same level of examination when fouled by Daly inside the box, and that one was more clear to me.

A seemingly more egregious call was made by VAR in the 37th minute when an apparent goal by Trinity Rodman off a beautiful feed from Megan Rapinoe was overturned due to the determination that Smith was offside:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

What could have been 😭<br><br>This Trinity Rodman goal was disallowed by VAR <a href="https://t.co/JemzMWDCQD">pic.twitter.com/JemzMWDCQD</a>

Despite the lack of a camera angle showing that Smith was clearly offside, the goal was disallowed, and England's 2-1 lead was restored.

USWNT forward Alex Morgan, who was not part of the squad for Friday's friendly, questioned the call on Twitter:

Alex Morgan @alexmorgan13

The "offside" call......... <a href="https://t.co/rOywlghNcp">pic.twitter.com/rOywlghNcp</a>

Alex Morgan @alexmorgan13

I can't see any offside in that play. And the ref didn't even check the video herself. Anyone else wondering why exactly the goal was called back? 🧐

Morgan was far from the only one to criticize the call, as many joined her in bewilderment on social media:

Alexander Abnos @AnAbnos

Let's say VAR was "right" &amp; Smith was slightly ahead of last defender here. <br><br>Did it materially impact the play? No. <br>Did Smith gain a significant advantage? No. <br>Did it in any way resemble "goal hanging" behavior that is the reason for the offside rule? No.<br><br>Bad interpretation. <a href="https://t.co/LgndjxuHn2">pic.twitter.com/LgndjxuHn2</a>

Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers

VAR hates beauty, creativity, and the United States of America

Bethany Balcer @bethanybalcer

that VAR line didn’t help the case at all😂 looks more onside every time i watch it

Maximiliano Bretos @MaxBretosSports

Officials way too reliant on VAR, thats a keep the call on the field moment. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ENGUSA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ENGUSA</a>

Carter Hochman @Carterr33

WHERE WAS THE OFFSIDE?? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/uswnt?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#uswnt</a> this is shocking refereeing <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/VAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#VAR</a> is a joke an ABSOLUTE farce

Caitlin Murray @caitlinmurr

I've been saying it for years and I stand by it: VAR stinks. Seriously, pass it on. 🗣️ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USWNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USWNT</a> <a href="https://t.co/6d0ppabBcP">https://t.co/6d0ppabBcP</a>

R @R09715534

Yet another fabulous game being ruined by the buffoons operating VAR. There is no way in a month of Sundays that was offside. Why has it been made normal to take away goals for no reason, it’s the main reason we watch football <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ENGUSA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ENGUSA</a>

In a cruel twist of fate, another VAR call went against the United States late in the second half after the official called a handball on England in the box and signaled for a penalty.

On that occasion, however, VAR got it right, as the ball never touched the hand or arm of an English defender, meaning there would be no PK.

England hung on to the 2-1 lead for the remainder of the match, scoring its biggest victory since defeating Germany in the Euro 2022 final in July.

The Lionesses are unbeaten since an April 2021 friendly loss to Canada, and they are perhaps establishing themselves as the team to beat in next year's World Cup despite the controversial nature of Friday's win.