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Build-out Lines - Referee's Worst Nightmare?

Build-out LinesIn the fall of 2016, US Soccer introduced “build-out lines” for small sided youth games in order to help teach young kids how to play the ball out from the back in an unpressured setting.  The build-out lines are painted on the filed exactly halfway between the midfield line and the edge of the penalty area (some complexes have them as a solid line while others have them as a dashed or dotted line).   It’s a commendable idea in terms of long term player development but it’s really and truly a nightmare for referees to have to deal with.  Here’s a variety of reasons why. 


The first and perhaps most significant rule (for the players) is that once the goalkeeper has the ball (or it goes out for a goal kick) the attacking team must retreat to behind the build-out line.  Once the attacking team is behind the build-out line the goal kick can be taken or the keeper can play the ball by throwing or passing the ball out (punting is not allowed).  Once the ball is put into play, the attacking team can then cross the build-out line and go after the ball.  Again, this is in some way a commendable effort by US Soccer to teach kids at an early age the importance of playing the ball out from the back.  Here’s where this part of the rule has the potential to be a problem for the referees.  Say that the keeper catches the ball and instead of waiting for the attacking players to get across the build-out line, immediately plays it and it gets stolen by an attacking player who scores.  What happens then?  The parents and coaches go crazy (which is something that happens way too much anyway so this extra, unneeded stress is not appreciated) and berate the referee because the attacking players weren’t on the other side of the build-out line.  Here’s the thing though: it’s not the job of the referee to make sure the keeper waits for everybody to get back across.  The ball is in play when the keeper plays it.  If the keeper choses to play it quickly, that’s not the referee’s problem. 


The biggest issue with the build-out lines though is how it affects the way the ARs will call offside.  Calling offside has always been relatively simple for an AR.  If the attacking player is in the attacking half of the field, ahead of the ball and behind the second to last defender, it’s offside.  But now with these new build-out lines there’s a catch to that.  The catch is that from the midfield line to the build-out line the attacking player cannot be offside, even if all of the criteria for being in the offside position are met.  The reasoning behind this is not clear but one possibility is that it helps to offset the disadvantage of not being able to cross the build-out line to attack in the first place.  For ARs, especially ones that are new to being referees, this is a nightmare.  The best thing to do in this situation is probably just to run the line the way it’s meant to be run and just mentally note the build-out lines and remember that there is no offside between midfield and the build-out line. 

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Turmoil in Tukwila: Open Cup Fiasco Could Have Been Avoided

b2ap3_thumbnail_dempseyredcard.jpgIf the third time’s a charm, what is the fourth time? 


For the US Open Cup, the Fourth Round of competition (the Round of 32 teams and 16 games) signaled the anticipated debut of the 17 U.S.-based MLS teams.   And while only two matches saw MLS teams fall to lower division opponents (one each from the NASL and USL), three other MLS sides squeaked by via penalty tiebreakers.


Speaking of fours – before the Orlando City/Charleston Battery game was ultimately decided by 10 rounds of tiebreaker kicks from the mark, referee Rubiel Vazquez whistled and pointed to the spot no less than four times.  Orlando City’s Carlos Rivas bagged his first career hat trick by converting all three penalty kicks awarded to the Lions.  Interesting stuff indeed.


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Assistant Referees: Plan to Succeed… Know Your Surroundings!

b2ap3_thumbnail_goal.jpgNostalgia time.  I remember my first Major League Soccer assignment like it was yesterday: Old Mile High Stadium in Denver… April 14, 2001.  This rookie was going to be the Junior Assistant Referee for Kevin Stott in the Colorado Rapids’ home opener against the MetroStars.  In hindsight, I probably should have informed Kevin more than 30 minutes prior to kick-off that this would be my first career MLS game.


No worries.  Mr. Stott has an amazing sense of humor.  And an even more amazing presence on the field.


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Cautions: When you “Give” a Yellow Card, What do you “Get” in Return?

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.


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USA soccer referees are not good enough!

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:


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