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We are current and former USSF referees with a combined refereeing experience of over three decades. We have officiated over 1000 games including professional level matches. While we consult and seek advice from a number of other referees, assessors and soccer officials, the website's content is primarily edited by Mr. Rafal Wlazlo and Mr. Artur M. Wlazlo. Rafal is a freshly retired National Referee from Eastern New York and a current State Referee Assessor. He began his refereeing career in 1998. Artur began his refereeing career in 1990 and retired in 2005, after nearly 15 years of refereeing. We sincerely hope that our knowledge and experience will help you in all aspects of refereeing, coaching and playing, as well as provide a platform to explore the beautiful world of soccer.

USA defeats Costa Rica in World Cup qualifier in blizzard-like conditions.

b2ap3_thumbnail_ussoccer.jpgIn blizzard-like conditions, the United States Men’s National Team bested dangerous Costa Rica team in World Cup qualifier played in Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado this past Friday on March 22, 2013. This was crucially important game for the United States.  After playing listlessly and losing to a talented Honduras team 1:2 at Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on February 6, 2013, the U.S. desperately needed a win and three points to right the ship.  This was especially important because the next game for the U.S. is against Mexico in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on March 26, 2013.

 

The U.S. went ahead 1:0 on Clint Dempsey’s goal in the 16th minute of the game. The U.S. was a bit lucky as Jozy Altidore’s shot ricocheted off Costa Rica’s defender Keylor Navas and landed right in front of Clint Dempsey. Dempsey, who was able to hold the line to avoid offside, simply tapped it into the Costa Rica’s goal and the U.S. was up 1:0.  This was Clint Dempsey’s 32nd career goal for the U.S. National Team. The U.S. would not relinquish this slim lead for the rest of the game.  In the 42nd minute of the game the U.S. should have been awarded a penalty kick after Clint Dempsey was clumsily brought down by a Costa Rica defender Roy Miller in the penalty area. Unfortunately, referee Joel Aguilar did not spot any infringement and let play continue. (See the incident at 2:45 into the video)

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Interview with FIFA and USSF Referee Chris Penso

b2ap3_thumbnail_penso2.jpgChris Penso

Born: 04/28/1982

Referee since: 1997

Professional Debut: Miami FC vs. Puerto Rico - USL Div 1 - 07/04/2008

FIFA Referee since: 2013

 

When did you decide to become a referee, and who were some of the influences on your career?

 

I became a referee in 1997 at the age of 14. My youth coach asked if anyone wanted to attend an entry level referee course and I volunteered to go as I figured it would be a fun way to earn some money. Another major influence was my district referee administrator at the time, Tom Chapman (current OH-N SRA).


What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of the refereeing profession by coaches, players, fans and the media?

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Referee Toledo’s Major League Soccer season begins with two controversial decisions.

Houston Dynamo v. DC UnitedThe 2013 Major League Soccer season began today and, unfortunately, it did not begin well for referee Baldomero Toledo. In the 38th minute of the game between Houston Dynamo and DC United, Mr. Toledo made a crucial mistake and awarded a penalty kick to Houston Dynamo even though the foul was committed outside of the penalty area. The fast developing action that led to Mr. Toledo’s error began with DC United’s center back Brandon McDonald losing his footing and Houston’s Ricardo Clark pouncing after the loose ball. As Clark was sprinting towards the goal, another DC United defender, Chris Korb, tried desperately to catch up to speedy Clark.  Just as Clark was about to enter the penalty area and unleash his shot, Korb extended his leg and clipped Clark’s shooting leg, knocking him off balance and down to the ground.  Mr. Toledo pointed to the spot.

 

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Understanding and judging handling offenses in soccer.

West Brom v. SunderlandWe have written about handling offenses a lot on this blog and for good reason.  These decisions almost always seem controversial. One reason that these decisions invite so much controversy and discussion stems from the fact that the Laws of the Game state that a handling offense occurs when a player “handles the ball deliberately.” In other words, the referee is required to determine whether the player, whose hand/arm came in contact with the ball, intentionally or deliberately played the ball. A lot of controversy, however, also arises from a failure to understand what “deliberate” means in the context of the Laws of the Game and how referees are instructed to look at and judge these offenses. We wanted to use as an example of a correct call referee Roger East made to award a penalty kick for handling in the recent game between West Brom Albion and Sunderland in the English Premier League.  In the 35th minute of the game, West Brom Liam Ridgwell’s cross struck Sunderland’s Craig Gardner in the arm. Mr. East, who was perfectly positioned to make the call, immediately pointed to the spot (see the video below).    

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The forgotten, and rarely enforced pass-back violation, goes unpunished yet again.

In the 91st minute of the game between West Brom and Aston Villa, Aston Villa’s Lowton and West Brom’s Lukaku were locked in a fierce battle for a ball near Aston Villa’s penalty area. Panicking Lowton, who appeared to be on the losing end of the battle for the ball, in his last ditch effort to prevent Lukaku from taking control over the ball, kicked the ball toward his goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Guzan calmly collected the ball and the dangerous attack petered out. Despite some protestation from West Brom players, Referee Lee Probert did not spot any infringement and let the game continue (see the video below). We believe Mr. Probert decision to let the play continue was wrong.

 

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Goalkeeper Jerseys, Gloves & Gear from SoccerSuperstoreUSA.com!

It is safe to say that the amount of effort and dedication a goalkeeper puts into every game is unique. And it’s not just about saving a ball from going into the net but a whole lot more. It’s about constantly motivating the defenders as well as other teammates to level up their game. It’s about keeping calm under pressure knowing he or she is the last man (or woman) standing between the goal and the opposing team scoring. Without any doubt, the efforts of a goalkeeper can – and do - make a huge difference in the game. It is, therefore, imperative for him/ her to own good quality goalkeeping gear, including goalkeeper jersey, pair of goalkeeper gloves, goalkeeper padded pants or shorts and goalkeeper socks. With superior quality goalkeeper gloves, goalkeeper jerseys, shorts and pants one can expect to make crucial saves during a match.

 

I. Goalkeeper Jerseys.

 

Goalkeeper JerseyA goalkeeper jersey must therefore be highly durable, comfortable and breathable.  A good goalkeeper jersey must be of the highest quality in order to enhance the performance of the goalkeeper. Therefore, purchasing a high quality goalkeeper jersey should be carefully made as a good quality goalkeeper jersey will help a goalkeeper to maintain his/her edge and sharpness during the game. For this reason, SoccerSuperstoreUSA.com offers only superior quality goalkeeper jerseys. For example, the Martinique Goalkeeper Jersey features new and improved protective elbow padding and is made of ActiveMax high-tech fabric that offers comfort by increasing the airflow to the body. This Goalkeeper Jersey also sports great and unique design, including Reflex-Vision accents, gradient sublimated design and piping finish on sleeves.  Goalkeeper JerseyGoalkeeper Jerseys offered by SoccerSuperstoreUSA are available in multiple sizes, including youth and adult sizes, and in variety of color combinations.  Goalkeeper Jerseys are also available in long-sleeves and short-sleeves. They also come in unique pattern designs. These jerseys were designed with goalkeeping in mind so they feature elbow padding, reinforced construction and superior fabrics for excellent moisture control o always keep your body cool and comfortable.  So, if you are looking to buy the best goalkeeper jersey at an affordable price, all you need to do is to purchase it from a SoccerSuperstoreUSA.com.

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Interview with FIFA and USSF Referee Ricardo Salazar

b2ap3_thumbnail_salazar.jpgRicardo Salazar 

Born: 09/06/72

Referee since: 1985

MLS Referee since: 2000

FIFA Referee since: 2005

Full Time USSF Referee since: 2007

 

When did you decide to become a referee, and who were some of the influences on your career?

 

I became a referee at the young age of 13. Due to the lack of numbers of referees when growing up playing, the league asked each club to designate a parent to become a referee.  My dad went to the entry level class and worked one year alone.  It was the following year that he sent me and my brother so he would have a referee team, so for a few years he would blow the whistle while my brother and I ran the line for him.  Also, he was able to protect us and we got little grief from coaches/spectators.  So you can say my dad had an influence in getting me started.  The two other people who had an influence as my career began to take off were Viet Troung and Steve Siomos.

 

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Soccer Referee Uniforms offered by SoccerSuperstoreUSA.com.

b2ap3_thumbnail_55.pngRefereeStore.com is a specialty store that offers a wide selection of soccer-only products, including soccer referee starter kits, soccer referee uniform packages, soccer referee jerseys, soccer referee shorts and soccer referee socks.

 

According to the Advice to Referees issued by the United States Soccer Federation, soccer “referees may wear only the gold primary jersey or the black, blue, red, or green alternate jerseys.” You can purchase all soccer referee jerseys in approved colors and in a new updated bold USSF style stripe design at RefereeStore.com.  www.RefereeStore.com offers soccer referee jerseys at two price points: professional soccer referee jerseys and economy soccer referee jerseys.

 

Soccer Referee JerseyThe Professional Soccer Referee Jersey comes in a new updated bold USSF style stripe design and is made of Cooltec performance fabric that keeps your body cool. The professional soccer referee jersey also features raglan sleeve and a true-to-size cut for a more comfortable fit, max-stay collar ensures a professional look, two large front flap pockets with Velcro closures and built in pen channel and hook and loop badge holder on the left pocket. This soccer referee jersey also comes is cut and style for a woman soccer referee. The Women Soccer Referee Jersey was designed by women for the woman referee.

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Suárez hands Liverpool win against Mansfield in the FA Cup.

Luis Suárez was at it again, this time by scoring a winning goal with his arm to ensure Liverpool’s victory at Field Mill against fifth division Mansfield Town and securing his team’s place in the FA Cup fourth round.
 
Suárez put Mansfield Town in a 0-2 hole in the 59th minute of the match when he clearly scored the goal with his hand after Mansfield goalkeeper, Alan Marriott, deflected the initial shot. While we are no mind readers and, under the Laws of the Game the ball must be touched by the offending player in a deliberate manner, there can be very little doubt that Suarez intentionally handled the ball.
 
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Referee's red cards ruled as obvious errors by the FA!

In the last week’s English Premier League game between West Ham and Everton, the referee Anthony Taylor sent off West Ham’s Carlton Cole and Everton’s Darron Gibson for what he apparently perceived to be dangerous high-foot challenges that put the safety of their opponents at risk.  The first red card was awarded in the 67th minute of the game to Carlton Cole after he challenged for the ball with his leg fully extended and studs up while Everton’s Leighton Baines was challenging for the ball with his head. Mr. Taylor almost immediately pulled the red card from his pocket and dismissed Cole. However, even though the replays showed that Cole’s foot was dangerously high and close to Baines’ head, he was going for the ball and there appear to be no intent on his part to injure or intimidate the Everton player. What’s more, Baines was barely grazed by Carlton’s foot and, to his credit, he did not embellish any injury from the contact. The second red card was awarded in the 90th minute of the game to Darron Gibson for a similar high-footed challenge on West Ham’s Mark Noble. Like the Cole’s challenge, Gibson’s tackle did not appear malicious or retaliatory in nature and he did not appear to intentionally target his opponent. (See the video below.)

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Tragedy strikes as Dutch referee dies after attack!

On December 2, 2012, Richard Nieuwenhuizen, Dutch soccer referee, has died after a group of youth players from SV Nieuw Sloten, whose ages ranged from 15 to 16, allegedly attacked and beaten him to death. The Associated Press reported that Mr. Nieuwenhuizen was “working as a linesman during his son's youth soccer match.” While the precise cause of Richard’s death was not yet officially disclosed, it was reported on Dutch television that his death had been caused by brain damage sustained during the attack. The AP also reported that the “the players were still in custody and investigations were ongoing” and that the “police would not rule out arresting more suspects. The USA Today later reported that “prosecutors [were] charging three players, two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old, with manslaughter, assault and public violence for alleged involvement in a vicious attack on Nieuwenhuizen.” The AP reported that the club, Nieuw Sloten, said in a statement on its website that “it has banned the players involved and pulled their team out of the league” and further stated that such “incidents ‘do not belong on a football field.’"  We immediately wrote on our Facebook page that we and the entire soccer community were mourning and called on FIFA and all its Member Associations to condemn this senseless act of violence.

 

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LA Galaxy crowned MLS Cup Champions.

In front of a record setting sell-out crowd at the Home Depot Center, LA Galaxy came back from a 0:1 deficit to beat Houston Dynamo 3:1 and claim MLS Cup 2012. While the game was sloppy at times, it was also hugely entertaining and not entirely free from controversial refereeing decisions.  The game was refereed by Silviu Petrescu, who also was voted the MLS Referee of the Year, and the assisstant referees were Daniel Belleau and Darren Clark. For the first time in MLS league history, the MLS Cup final was refereed entirely by a Canadian crew of referees.  Mr. Petrescu, as expected, had his work cut out for him and, for the most part, we believe that he managed and refereed the game well.  For example, Mr. Petrescu’s two penalty calls were spot-on. There is no doubt in our minds that the handball (first penalty kick) and foul on Robbie Keane (second penalty kick) were correctly called.  However, a couple of his decisions – one involving the second penalty -- merit additional scrutiny.

 

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Salazar’s no-call decision pivotal in Dynamo’s win over United!

Sometimes, one referee decision can influence and overshadow the entire match and stir a lot of controversy. The first-leg of the Eastern Conference Championship match between DC United and Houston Dynamo gave rise to such controversy. In the 48th minute of the game - at the time when DC United was leading Houston Dynamo 1:0 - DC United midfielder Raphael Augusto and Houston Dynamo defender Andre Hainault were locked in a fierce foot-race and battle for the ball. Sprinting towards the Dynamo’s goal, both players tried to outmuscle each other. As United’s Augusto appeared to get upper hand over his Dynamo opponent, in a desperate attempt to prevent Augusto from a one-on-one encounter with his goalkeeper, Dynamo’s Hainault hooked his arm around Augusto’s arm and dragged him down to the ground stopping the dangerous attack. As the video below shows, all of this took place merely two or three yards away from the penalty area with no one other than the goalkeeper in front of the two players. Referee Ricardo Salazar, however, who was directly behind and also a few yards away from the encounter, did not spot any infringement and let the play continue.

 

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Openly hostile dissent always deserves to be punished!

The New York Red Bulls clinched their playoff spot after tying Sporting Kansas City 0:0.  The Red Bulls came out energetic and eager to avenge their loss to Kansas City from a couple of weeks before the encounter. The 0:2 loss to Kansas City was also the Red Bulls’ first season loss at home so perhaps, with their high energy and enthusiasm, the Red Bulls wanted to send a message to their potential play-off rivals that “you don’t tread on us at home.” Indeed, the Red Bulls were a better team in just about every category that matters: they outshot their opponents 10:6, their possession was 63.7% to Kansas City’s 36.3% and they had 9 corner kicks to their opponents only 3. Thus, being clearly a much better team in this game, the 0:0 draw had to feel disappointing to the Red Bulls.

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Does your reputation precede you?

Even though this was only his sixth game in the Major League Soccer, Referee Ismail Elfath has already handed out four red cards and pointed to the spot on three separate occasions. It seems that Mr. Elfath is not afraid to call a foul when he sees it or dish out severe punishment when he thinks it is merited.  It was no different in this game as Mr. Elfath pointed to the spot two more times. That is five penalties in only six games! The first penalty call came in the 75th minute of the game after Houston’s Macoumba Kandji’s low cross into the five yard box was pounced on by his teammate Will Bruin.  Even though it looked like Bruin would never get to Kandji’s low-cross in time, RSL’s defender Chris Schuler wanted to make sure that he didn’t and pushed him in the back (see video below).  Without any hesitation, Mr. Elfath correctly pointed to the spot. Houston’s Brad Davis, however, was not able to convert the penalty as Nick Rimando made a great diving save.  

 

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Referee's whistle sparks rare controversy in MLS game.

The New York Red Bulls recorded their first comeback from a two-goal deficit this season when, after an exciting game, they beat the Portland Timbers 3:2 at Red Bull Arena on August 19, 2012.  This was also the game in which Tim Cahill, Red Bulls recent signing from Everton, scored his first goal in MLS. Cahill’s goal, however, was controversial because it looked like it was scored after Referee Jasen Anno blew his whistle, indicating a foul inside Portland’s penalty area. As the video below demonstrates, it appears that Referee blew his whistle immediately after the ball bounced off the Portland Timber’s defender. Mr. Anno’s whistle was not only immediate (premature?!) but also very loud as it can be clearly heard on the video. 

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Chelsea’s Ivanovic sent off for ugly tackle on City’s Kolarov.

In the 42nd minute of the Community Shield match between Chelsea and Manchester City, Referee Kevin Friend showed Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic a red card for a tackle on Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov. As the footage below shows, Ivanovic attempted to dispossess Kolarov by a sliding tackle. While sliding toward Kolarov and the ball, Ivanovic raised his leading leg off the ground,  exposed his studs and -- with speed and fully outstretched leg -- barreled his way into Kolarov’s shin, taking him down in the process. Mr. Friend did not hesitate and immediately showed Ivanovic a red card. Despite Chelsea’s protests at the severity of the punishment, Mr. Friend was absolutely right in dismissing Ivanovic from the game because his tackle was not merely “reckless.” Rather, it was "serious foul play." 

 

For the reasons explained below, Ivanovic was guilty of “serious foul play” when he tackled Kolarov and therefore deserved the most severe form of punishment.

 

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Six second rule violation pivotal in the U.S. win at the Olympics.

The U.S. Women Soccer Team defeated Canada 4:3 to reach the final at the London’s Olympic Games. The game was fast-paced, hard-fought and highly entertaining. Indeed, Canada led the U.S. Women on three separate occasions and the U.S. team came back to tie the game each time. The U.S. Women’s final game winning goal also came in a dramatic fashion. It was scored in the 123rd minute -- the last minute of the added time in the second overtime  -- by Alex Morgan (click here to see the highlights from the game). Now in the finals, the U.S. will be given opportunity to avenge its loss from the last World Cup final against Japan. The gold medal match between the U.S. and Japan  will begin at 2:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at Wembley Stadium in London. It should be equally entertaining game.

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How obvious must an obvious goal-scoring opportunity be?

On July 18, 2012, Toronto FC continued its recent good form (after a truly horrible start to the season) and defeated Colorado Rapids 2:1 before home crowd at the BMO Field. This was an important game to both teams which were seemingly heading in the opposite direction. Toronto FC was playing for its third win in a row. Colorado, on the other hand, was trying to avoid its fourth loss in a row. Ultimately, Toronto FC prevailed and continued its remarkable recent resurgence while Colorado’s search for a better form goes on.

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Did Beckham deserve yellow or red card?

On June 30, 2012, in an entertaining game before the sellout crowd of 50,000 that saw a total of seven goals scored, San Jose Earthquakes defeated LA Galaxy 4:3. The spectators witnessed a flurry of goals and their home team clawing back from a 1:3 deficit to win the game 4:3. There was another goal -- a game wining goal -- by a league leading scorer Chris Wondolowski in the 61st minute of the game and also a spectacular goal by David Beckham in the 31st minute of the game. But Beckham was also involved in another - much less glamorous - incident in the 93rd minute of the game which almost caused a melee between the two teams.

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