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Alfred Kleinaitis is cloned and other soccer storylines for 2015

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. 


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Wannabe Refs!

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.


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College Soccer and other Autumn Traditions: 5 Questions for Brian Hall.

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.


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Top 10 Soccer Referees in the World!

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: 


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Vanishing referee spray and GLT – the tip of the iceberg?

Referee SprayThe introduction of vanishing referee spray (or as is also known – “shaving foam”) at the World Cup in Brazil recently could be the thin end of the wedge as far as technology and other “aides” for referees are concerned. While it was greeted with a fair amount of scepticism by some, its use proved to be well justified.


For the uninitiated, it was a canister of foam used by the referee to demarcate where the ball was to be placed at the taking of a free kick. It was also used to indicate where the defensive wall was to stand. All of this to ensure that the law was complied with; in other words that defensive players were no closer than 9.15 meters (10 yds) from the ball at the taking of a free kick.


This was used exclusively around the penalty area and not in any other part of the field of play.


Why is it necessary to have this foam in the first place? Clearly the answer is that the players cannot be trusted to retreat the required distance from the ball at the taking of a free kick, or that the offended team won’t move the ball forward when the referee’s back is turned.


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