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Soccer Blog

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b2ap3_thumbnail_OrlandoFC.jpgAt last!  It's been long coming and, quite frankly, we thought we would never seen it.  But, it finally arrived.

 

No, we are not really talking about the start of the new MLS season this weekend.  Although, obviously, we are thrilled that the season started on time and without work stoppage which, as it was reported, was quite still probable just a couple of days before the kickoff.  

 

What we are talking about here is Mr. Alan Kelly's performance during a historic game between two new MLS expansion teams Orlando City SC and NY City FC in front of 62,000 fans at Orlando Citrus Bowl stadium in Orlando, Florida.  

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_In-Your-face.jpgOur 140,000+ registered soccer referees here in the United States are extremely fortunate to have professional peers from which to learn.  While cheering on their favorite or hometown teams, aspiring referees can tune into Major League Soccer games for nine months out of the year and study how referees recognize foul play, take risks to maximize game flow, manage player behaviors, and apply the Laws of the Game.  Television coverage of pro soccer has grown by leaps and bounds over MLS’ first two decades.

 

Just one request:  Please don’t emulate the pro referees’ mechanics when they issue yellow cards.  What works for them might not work as well for you…

 

When it comes to issuing cautions, our aspiring officials – especially Grade 7 referees working adult games at the amateur level (AGAL) and in particular those who fly solo (without assistant referees) – must consistently get it right, as their success in managing the game absolutely depends on it.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_PGMOL.jpgThere is a strong perception out there that the EPL referees and their assistants are among the best in the world.

 

However, in a recent scathing attack on his former colleagues, Keith Hackett, the former head of the USA equivalent of PRO, called for four current Premier League referees to be dropped at the end of the season.

 

He went on to label the current crop of match officials operating in the top tier of English football as “the worst that we have seen.”

 

Mr. Hackett, who was succeeded as head of the Professional Games Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) by ex Premier referee Mike Riley, has called for Mr. Riley to be sacked and for one particular referee Lee Probert to be removed from his position should he fail a fitness test.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_DOGSO-blog.jpgWe wanted to provide an important update to our recent blog on this subject matter because of the additional information that has been brought to our attention after our blog was published (If you have not read the blog, we strongly encourage you to read it first before continuing further).  Namely, one of our regular readers and forum contributor, Alex Fletcher, pointed us to a quiz posted on this website containing one question that is directly relevant to the type of hypothetical situation that we analyzed in our blog.  The questions is as follows:

 

A defender on his own goal line, between the goal posts, deliberately handles the ball which rebounds to an opponent who scores a goal directly. What decision should the referee make?

A. The referee sends off the defender for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball to prevent a goal and awards a penalty kick.
B. The referee applies advantage, allows the goal and cautions the defender for unsporting behaviour.
C. The referee applies advantage, awards the goal and sends off the defender for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball to prevent a goal.
D. The referee applies advantage and awards the goal without taking any disciplinary action.   

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_wishlist.jpgThe next time someone stops the car to admire my holiday lights, I am going to ask for a small donation.  There is so much I hope to see accomplished over the next year… lots of influence to be had, yet my budget remains miniscule, and I’ve yet to receive my electric bill from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

 

OK, I will put down the eggnog long enough to complete my wish list for the next twelve months.  Here goes nothing, except perhaps my reputation… please stop laughing and read on as I share emerging stories I am anxiously following and headlines I would like to read in 2015.

 

Americans steal the show in Canada:  Assuming they are not actually devoured by their Group of Death, the U.S. Women’s National Team should advance and could again reach the Final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup CanadaTM… and I certainly hope that they do.  But should they falter in their quest to raise the Cup, then my Plan B calls for American referee Margaret Domka and her crew to be assigned to officiate the Final, earning Ms. Domka a place in American soccer history alongside Sandra Hunt and Kari Seitz.  Maybe my hope is one quadrennial cycle premature… then again, Mark Geiger seized his opportunity in Brazil before coming up one “Serious Foul Play” short of running the table. 

 

Posted by on in General

b2ap3_thumbnail_lawsofthegame_20141223-034133_1.jpgSome time ago I wrote a blog stating that refereeing was not for the faint hearted. I stick by that conclusion.  I would even go on to say that while some might perceive themselves as being match officials, they would never make a referee in their lifetime. Why?

 

Let me start from the beginning and as you read on you’ll get to grip with what I mean.

 

Refereeing is a special kind of “work.” It requires nerves of steel, the fitness of an Olympic athlete, skin as thick as an elephant (no disrespect to the elephant), the wisdom of Albert Einstein, and the testicular fortitude of a struggling politician telling us that everything is “hunky dorey” when constantly getting doors slammed in his/her face.

 

Not many have those qualities. Fewer still will ever develop them so my advice is take some other activity where there is no stress and even less hassle.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_DOGSO-blog.jpgWe recently had an interesting discussion on our forum about one particular incident that occurred in a match between Real Madrid v. Ludogorets Razgrad.  As can be viewed in the video below, in the 19th minute of the game, Ludogorets’ player, who was standing on the goal line between the posts, illegally prevented the ball from going into the goal by intentionally deflecting it with his arm.  The deflected ball, however, bounced and luckily landed right in front of Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale who volleyed into the goal.  Bale’s celebration was cut short, however, when he realized that the referee blew the whistle and signaled for the penalty kick instead. Following his decision to award the penalty kick, the referee dismissed the offending player for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.  The resulting penalty kick was – fortunately for the referee – converted into Real Madrid’s goal.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_brianhall.jpgI love autumn.  The leaves are turning color.  The air has become crisp (last night’s temp dropped to 52F).   My Clippers and Kings are off to a solid (if not entirely promising) start.  And so many Facebook friends are posting photos of their NCAA, NJCAA and NAIA playoff matches… some in short sleeves, others in long sleeves… and then there’s the occasional parka!

 

On December 14, all eyes will turn to Cary, North Carolina and WakeMed Soccer Park in anticipation of the 2014 NCAA Men’s College Cup.  A crowd expected to exceed 7,000 will witness the pinnacle of collegiate soccer, contested on a pristine grass pitch inside an impressive complex specifically built to showcase soccer.  WakeMed stands as proof (and one of nearly 20 modern examples) of just how far the World’s Game has progressed here in the United States.

 

Top Ten Soccer RefereesI’ve been asked many times whom I would consider to be the top 10 referees in the world.  This is a very difficult question of course. Unless you are objective there is the temptation to have your own particular favourite and that will naturally taint your judgement. I will name them – at the end of this piece.  I must also point out that the ones I’ve named are currently officiating and are not retired at the time of going to press.

 

First of all it’s important to select a criterion of what makes a good referee become a top 10 referee.

 

These are mine and in no particular order: 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_FIFA-Referees.jpgThe success of USA FIFA referee Mark Geiger at the recent World Cup in Brazil appears to be a one-off. There are no more refs in the USA with FIFA potential. That’s it - NONE.

 

Well that’s according to the latest news from “Refereeing World” which recently published a list of referees for a seminar in “Prospective World Cup Referee.” They were drawn from CONMEBOL & CONCACAF and not one referee from the USA is listed.

 

It has to be stated that these are up-and-coming officials and not from the existing list. Still, that makes for disturbing reading and someone needs to be held accountable.

 

The obvious questions that have to be asked:

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_wooden_pyramid.jpgIn recent blogs, I have shared observations about what makes some of us “more effective” referees than others... such as being “Ready for Anything” or not rushing a call by “Counting to One.”  At the end of the day, wisdom and physical fitness are largely wasted if the referee isn’t effective in what he or she does on the field.  In sharing my thoughts, I’ve tried (in my own small way) to impart an idea or two that aspiring officials might consider working into their own officiating routine.

 

No free advice today.  And no one made the highlight reel, either.

 

Today, I would like to challenge every official to take timeout for some important introspection.  Think about how you reached your current level of officiating… and if you aspire to reach even higher, what do you need to focus on to achieve further advancement?

 

John R. Wooden, arguably the most successful collegiate basketball coach of all time, introduced his “Pyramid of Success” to develop UCLA student-athletes.  The “Wizard of Westwood” identified 15 key aspects, and then assembled them into a five-tiered pyramid, with the pinnacle being achievement of “Competitive Greatness.”

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Juan-Guzman.pngOne of my recurring criticisms of MLS Referee performances this season is that on too many occasions, officials seemed hesitant, intimidated or just not ready – for whatever reason – to assert their authority from Minute One.  As the athletes try to get a feel for their opponents’ tactics, officials have demonstrated excessive patience (or just taken too passive an approach) in reacting to fouls that appear reckless and behavior that looks intimidating… just because they occur in the first few minutes.

 

As our youth and amateur referees grow and advance, their instructors, assessors and mentors stress over and over and over again: like the competing athletes, game officials must be ready to perform from the very first whistle.  “Carpe Diem” – Seize the day!  Get the game off to a solid start through intense concentration.  Set the tone early on.  Hustle.  Show everyone that you are there to perform.  And when the opportunity presents itself, calmly and decisively assert your authority.

 

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