US Crest




MLS Week In Review

Week 2 – ending April 6, 2008


Overall, great work.  Exciting games, lots of goals, lots of advantages (3 leading to goals), solid penalty kick decisions, good cautions, good send-offs, and STRONG offside decisions (called and not called)!  Everyone is to be commended on your focus and performances.  Games had ENTERTAINMENT VALUE with obvious examples of the referee team contributing to the flow of the match without endangering player safety and causing discontent on the part of the teams.

Note the following stats:

  • Goals scored per game (average):  Week 2 = 4 / Week 1 = 2.5
  • Fouls called per game (average):  Season to date = 23 / Last year to date = 31

What do these stats mean?  Referees are allowing more flow and allowing the minor, trifling offences to go as long as game control is not impacted.  Plus, with ARs keeping the flag down and making accurate offside decisions goals scored increased by 1.5 per game. 

Week 2 Focus

ARs be focused on sharper on offside decisions.  Show restraint and keep the flag down unless 100% sure.

Result > Great work.  Focus was evident as not a single goal scoring opportunity or goal was denied due to an errant AR flag.  FOCUS, FOCUS and FOCUS.  This is critical in the increase of goals scored.  WELL DONE!

Week 3 Focus

Referees using personality to “PREVENT THE NEXT FOUL.”  Referees must use personality (not just blowing the whistle or waving “play on”) to deal with borderline fouls.  The referee’s actions must be visual and send a message.

  • Video Clip 1:  Kevin Stott talking with KC’s Lopez.  A conversation that opens up a line of communication not just for the moment but later.
  • Video Clip 2:  Real Salt Lake vs. Chivas (48:30) in which RSL’s Mantilla body checks Chivas’ Harris.  This is borderline cautionable.  The referee must do more than blow the whistle.  Call player over and send a message.  This is a tactical foul made by a defender who knows there is a lot of attacking space behind him if Harris gets by; hence, the defender decides “the ball may get by but the attacker won’t.”
  • Video Clip 3:  Columbus vs. NY (56:20) in which the NY player is body checked off the ball in a manner that borders on “reckless.”  Should the referee not caution, the player should be called over and preventative officiating applied.

Weekly Commentary

  • Advantages leading to goals:  There were 3 goals resulting from the referee applying advantage.  Holding the whistle and seeing how play develops works!
  • Video Clip 4:  Dallas vs. Houston (43:55).  Dallas second goal comes off a hard midfield foul.  The advantage is excellent but consider further additional action on the part of the referee. Situations like this should not go unsanctioned. Referees must be creative but they must address the challenge with the player in question. Great advantage but even better with delayed caution or, depending upon the atmosphere of the game, a strong admonishment.
  • Video Clip 5:  RSL vs. Chivas (31:55).  Not 1 but 2 fouls in midfield are recognized.  Excellent vision, great advantage but even better with delayed caution or, depending upon the atmosphere of the game, a strong admonishment..
  • Video Clip 6:  Colorado vs. Kansas City.  An advantage applied in the defensive third, against the goalkeeper, results in a long-range goal and assist to the keeper.  Given the foul was in the defensive third, this is taking a risk that worked.  Well done and a piece of top-class refereeing.
  • AR involvement on free kicks:  ARs should not enter the field to manage free kicks (spot the ball) or move the wall back unless prearranged with the referee.  ARs must be cognizant of a team’s need for quick restarts and early entrance onto the field by the AR will put you out of position.  Note the following important aspects:
  • ARs and referees must have prearranged mechanics for when and how the AR can enter the field.
  • ARs should not intervene unless a team specifically and clearly requests 10 yards.
  • Referees must not signal for the restart until the AR is correctly positioned for the next phase of play (offside).
  • Video Clip 7:  San Jose vs. Galaxy (2:00).  Off a free kick, near the AR, a goal is disallowed because the AR entered the field to manage the restart and SJ took a quick restart.  Note, that the ball is NOT touched by the sliding player.  The AR is out of position to make the correct decision thus disallowing the game’s first goal 2 minutes in.
  • Penalty Kick Decisions:  Officials showed the courage to make 2 penalty kick decisions this weekend.  In one case, the score was 2-0 and the penalty was in favor of the winning team.  The penalty was clear and the referee did not let the score influence the decision.
  • Video Clip 8:  Columbus vs. NY (50:40).  NY attacker is pulled down in the area as he turns past the defender.  NY was winning 2-0 at the time.
  • Video Clip 9:  New England vs. Chicago (34:35).  Chicago attacker is brought down.  Although subtle, contact is made in 2 manners:  with the arm and then a clip on the heel.
  • Over-involvement by ARs:  ARs need to continue to “feel” the game as the referee is and quickly ascertain “did the referee see it and does the referee need me?”  First crack at the call belongs with the referee.  If at all possible, look to see where the referee is prior to raising the flag.  This was covered at National Camp.
  • Video Clip 10:  Colorado vs. Kansas City (52:25). A challenge occurs near the AR but in clear view of the referee (the referee is close, has a clear line of vision).  The defender seemingly plays the ball and the challenge is part of the normal flow of the game.  The question, however, is:  “Can the referee make the decision to award a foul or not?”  The ARs call leads to a caution for dissent.  ARs should read the situation and not be involved unless the referee needs you.
  • Foul Distinction:  Progress continues to be made in allowing the game to flow with several instances of good foul discrimination – playing to what the game needs and the players are accepting.  However, we can still take a few more calculated risks on some of the minor fouls in the midfield area especially when the game is under control and the players are responding to your management style and game control style.
  • Offside Decisions – positive:  Improvement over week 1.  Note the clip of appropriate flag by the AR.
  • Video Clip 11:  Columbus vs. NY (31:12):  close decision made even more difficult since the movement is directly in front of the AR.  AR makes right decision to keep flag down.  NOTE:  AR position with body square to the field as the ball is played.
  • Fourth Official Position:  At games were sign boards are present in front of the team benches and 4th official, the 4th official MUST position himself on the bench side of the boards as to provide better access to the teams and substitutions. In cases where the TV camera protrudes into the 4th official’s area and separates the 4th official from one team bench or another, effort should be made on the part of the 4th official to modify his position during the game so as to not be showing “favoritism” to one bench or another.
  • Red Cards:  There were two red cards issued.  Both can survive the scrutiny of review with the notes provided.
  • Video Clip 12:  New England vs. Chicago (6:05).  Although early in the game, the referee was well positioned to make a determination that the tackle involved “excessive force” and could have injured the player.  Of note is that the referee also cautioned #21 for dissent and showing disrespect to the referee (review MLS email to teams/coaches).
  • Video Clip 13:  Columbus vs. NY (80:45).  The decision on the part of the referee was to issue a second caution; however, the National Referee Office prefers a straight red card for serious foul play. The tackle is from the front, over the top, and the speed and distance of the tackle make the likelihood of playing the ball minimal.
  • Kansas City – field alignment and impact on AR:  The following is received by one of the ARs working the game at the new field in KC. Note the following critical components:  (a) arrive at the stadium early to become comfortable with your surroundings; (b) be aware of the sun depending upon the time of day; and (c) be rested and well prepared.
  • It is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for the SAR to maintain the proper position in this stadium.  I took at least 5 minutes on my own when we were walking the field to get my bearings.  As we know, the stadium is designed for baseball, and because of the field layout the stands make your eyes want to line you up with the SLD completely wrong.  The field cut was helpful, but if they could make the cuts half the width of what they did - it would be better.  During the field inspection, we asked the field crew to remove aluminum benches from in front of the baseball dugouts, as I felt they were even more distracting (my eyes being pulled to the light reflecting off of the bleachers (this was not a problem because they weren't there for a particular purpose).
  • I learned very quickly during the game that I would have to focus on the offside line in order to maintain the proper position.  I made my focus point the touchline on the far side of the field...and that seemed to help.  At halftime, I told the referee that to be properly positioned for offside decisions, it would be very unlikely that I could assist him with any fouls...and even with ball in and out of play decisions (to a certain extent) on my side, unless they were right in front of me.  This communication was very helpful for things that happened in the second half.
  • This was an afternoon game, so I also had the sun and wind in my face the entire game.
  • Again, it took 90 minutes of 100% concentration just to maintain the proper position because of the dynamics of this stadium.  All I can say is for people to know this going into that stadium and to make sure they are well-rested and prepared.