WEEK IN REVIEW
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
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
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.”
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
- Advantages leading to goals: There were 3 goals resulting from
the referee applying advantage. Holding the whistle and seeing
how play develops works!
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.
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..
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
- Referees must not signal for the restart until the AR is correctly
positioned for the next phase of play (offside).
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
- 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.
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
- Offside Decisions – positive: Improvement over week 1. Note
the clip of appropriate flag by the AR.
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
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
- 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.