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FC Cincinnati's Mitch Hildebrandt was the victim of VAR's first big mistake

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A rescinded suspension tells us VAR has made its first error. Or at least failed to prevent one for the first time.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Well, this is embarrassing:

That is the USL announcing it is rescinding the suspension due Mitch Hildebrandt for his part in this incident.

It was the game-changing moment in FC Cincinnati's contest with New York Red Bulls II - and the game turned very much away from Cincy. NYRB II was awarded a penalty and 'keeper Hildenbrandt was sent off.

Scarcely 10 minutes into the match, the visitors found themselves down a goal and a man, and never really recovered.

The irony of the rescinded suspension is, of course, that this incident was reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee. NYRB II is currently the only pro team in the world playing in a venue equipped with video replay for match referees. And the challenge that sent Brandon Allen tumbling was reviewed.

Center referee Allen Chapman, curiously, didn't actually watch the tape himself - which has been the custom in the two preceding games to feature VARs. He seemed to take the word of the voice in his ear. It was a relatively long consultation by the standards we've seen in the three VAR-assisted games played to date.

Chapman was, as far as we know, checking for offside - since the AR had raised a flag and it appeared the whole question of penalty or red card would be moot.

Did the VAR advise on the red card issued to Hildebrandt also? We may never know.

But it only took three games for us to witness the first VAR-assisted refereeing error. This play was called by the ref on the field, reviewed by the man with the replays in front of him - and, effectively, overturned on further review after Cincy's appeal.

To be clear, the rescinding of the red card does not mean necessarily that the decision to reverse the offside call or even issue the penalty was wrong. All three calls - offside/onside, PK, red card - can be debated, even with the assistance of the replay.

But the rules around red cards for DOGSO (denial of obvious goal scoring opportunity) fouls have been relaxed recently. They don't have to be red cards any more.

[UPDATE: Nope.

Many thanks for the clarification.]

Absent further information, we don't know if USL is simply saying the red card was issued in error, or that there were other mistakes bundled into the decision. We do know that the league is reversing the only consequence of the mistaken call that it can: relieving Hildebrandt of his suspension. USL can't go back in time and reverse the influence of the decision on the outcome of the game - and the decision did directly impact the outcome of the game.

This looks like VAR's first big set-back. The system introduced to tackle "clear errors in match-changing situation" has either failed to spot such an error, or facilitated one (depending on whether the VAR did or did not recommend Chapman send off the 'keeper; or, indeed, what parts of the decision were deemed wrong on review). Either way, it's exactly what isn't supposed to happen with VAR in place: the big calls should be reviewed, and the decisions taken under review should be able to stand up to the scrutiny of a post-match appeal.

This one didn't, and it was a game-changer.