Paul Arriola: “It’s a great time to add it in such important games leading into the World Cup. I’m excited about it.” (Photo courtesy MLS)

By Michael Lewis Editor

U.S. men’s national team players gave a thumb’s up to Concacaf finally deciding to use Video Assistant Referee during its remaining World Cup qualifiers.

The confederation made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon.

“I think bringing in the VAR is is going to be good,” midfielder Paul Arriola said during a Zoom media call. “I think it’s helped leagues around the world. It’ll help international soccer, especially for us. There have been games and moments that can be decided based on a referee’s call.”

If VAR had been implemented during the 2018 World Cup qualifying tournament, the USA might have reached Russia. Panama scored a goal that never fully crossed the line, but it was allowed to stand. The Central Americans qualified and the USMNT stayed home for the first time since 1985. During a Concacaf Octagonal match at Jamaica in November, that momentum of that game might have been changed had some Reggae Boyz been sanctioned or red carded with a second look.

“Forget about what’s happened in the past, but I think it’s a great,” Arriola said. “It’s a great time to add it in such important games leading into the World Cup. I’m excited about it.”

Center back Walker Zimmerman didn’t sound as enthusiastic about VAR, but he certainly welcomed it.

“In terms of VAR, it’s instances where sometimes you still watch the replay, you’re like ‘How do they still call that a certain way?’ ” he said. “But at the end of the day, I do think that in theory and with how it can be implemented, it can be something that is an equal playing field for both teams. So no problem for us. It shouldn’t change anything about how we play or anything like that.”

The Americans have six games remaining in two windows.

The USMNT hosts El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 24, followed by a match against Canada in Hamilton, Ontario on Jan. 30 and it welcomes Honduras in St. Paul, Minn. on Feb. 2.

The three remaining matches are set for March. The USA will visit Mexico in Mexico City on March 24, faces Panama in Orlando, Fla. on March 27 before completing the Octagonal against at Costa Rica on March 30.