Friday, December 7, 2018

Neptune Clinic

Yes, this happened in August and here I am in late November writing about it but I meant to write about this a long time ago and had my ideas laid out beforehand, but apologies for not getting it out sooner.

It was interesting being part of that Academy. I enjoyed it and recommend people try to get in and get feedback. It was a brutally hot weekend so other than my first match on Saturday where I was the center, all matches had a water break which shorted play even more.

But the match I wanted to focus on was the doozy of a match that I did at 8am on Saturday. It was an over 40 match so I thought it wouldn't be that good of a match. I knew one of the teams somewhat since they play in Northern VA but I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of goals. I guess because the field was relatively small and these guys knew what they were doing, it was a great match.

The game started out tame enough but escalated quickly. We had two quick goals, one from each team and then came one of those match critical plays. Yellow crosses the ball from my right side and as it bounces at the penalty spot, an attacker and defender are jostling for when the ball comes down again. The attacker does a spin move of sorts and the defender does the "sliding pic" or "pick" play that I used to do in basketball growing up and blocks him out but the ball is not there yet and they topple over. PK for yellow and black is angry when I also card the defender.

Later in the game, yellow up 5-2 and we had a moment where had there not been a precedent set by the pros then it would have been a hard sell. Yellow keeper collects the ball on a cross from black. Black is retreating out of the box and yellow keeper distributes the ball to a yellow defender but a black attacker sticks out his foot and collects the ball, passes to a teammate who scores on an empty net. Yellow goes crazy, and all I had to say was that it was exactly what happened in the final between Real Madrid and Liverpool not 2 months ago. Everyone knew what I was talking about and accepted it. Had that not happened, it would have been a harder sell.

In the end, Black pulled out a fantastic comeback to win 6-5 after being down 5-2 with 25 minutes left to play. The feedback I got was that I needed to anticipate more the play instead of reacting and that my substitution procedure was fantastic until the last sub opportunity where we lost track of one and yellow played for a short time with 12.

The rest of the clinic was good. I would certainly do it again if they continue to have it. I also had the center for the final of the open competition, in what looked to be one of the "marquee" matchups. However, the game was over almost before it started. One team was riddled with injuries and the other team jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 5-6 minutes and then played keepaway. It didn't help that it was so hot that we had to do 2 water breaks per half.

More to come in the next couple of days now that activity for soccer has slowed down a bit (though I have a match on Sunday, where the high is going to be 37, not looking forward to it!).

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Blast from the past

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and I do want to apologize for being negligent on posting. There has been a lot going on and I just haven't really had the time to get everyone caught up with all the stuff going on.

I will want to touch on a couple of topics in the next couple of posts:

- Correcting fellow referees' communications (sock issue)
- Comms used with assessment match (and fight)
- Talked out of a red card scenario (adult match)
- Comms review

All these will be in the next couple of days since the weather is terrible. Tomorrow I have my physical exam and really feel like it is not the best time (I have eaten way too much turkey in the last couple of days) and I will update if anything weird happens.

But for today, I have a bit of a blast from the past. If you look at one of the first posts in 2008, I mention my first center, which was a U9 girls match. In cleaning out some of the stuff in my study/office, I came across this:

This is from that day. I couldn't believe it when I came across it. I still remember a lot from that match. It was hot, the assistant coach of the losing team asking me why I called on of their players offside, and by now, I wonder where a lot of those girls are. Some probably ready to begin playing in college while others stopped playing long ago. What is funny is that this was my actual first center than I can recall, even before doing rec, I did a travel center (albeit a lower level one).

And to think that I haven't done one of these U9 matches in about 4 years. Ever since they added the no-heading rule and build out lines, I find them more complicated and haven't really asked to do any of them. It has been a while and now there is proof of that (10 years, darn that is a long time).

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How much running...Round 3

The picture below is from this weekend. I worked an out of town tournament and had 5 matches on Saturday and 3 on Sunday. While I was tired, I felt pretty good after the Saturday matches.

This was about an hour before going to bed and so I ended up with about a thousand more steps than that when it was all said and done. 21.5 miles is quite a decent clip for one day. On Sunday, I did three more matches and then met up with the family and walked around the town quite a bit so I ended up with another 32k steps for Sunday. All told, 37 miles or so for the two days. By far the most I have done in a long time as I tend to not do so many matches per day.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mike Newman

Everyone, sorry for not writing much lately, a lot has been going on outside of soccer that required my full time attention and as such I have been reffing a little less and additionally been less inspired to write about what I have to deal with.

But two days ago, I received the news that a pillar of the referee community had passed away, and it shook me to the core. I am referring to Mike Newman. If you worked the FPYC Father's Day tournament (a rec tournament that was always a lot of fun) or State Cup, you were bound to come across Mike. He was always around. He checked in on his referees and his emails were slightly sarcastic and always made me laugh.

I was supposed to work this last Father's Day tournament but a couple of days before my wife suffered an accident where she broke a finger on her toe and would need help getting around that weekend and I had to cancel. I knew it would be the last time I could work together and now I regret even more not having been able to help him that one last time.

He moved out to Vegas shortly thereafter and passed away on Tuesday. My fondest memory of him was during a U12 President's Cup match some many years ago. My daughter and I were supposed to work it with another referee and instead Mike shows up. This was probably in 2014-2015 and we do the match, he was a hoot with the parents as AR2 and after the match we come to the conclusion that the goals were actually the wrong size. They were smaller than the regular U12 small sided goals were supposed to be. I cannot remember exactly what quip he said, but it was spot on and funny.

Along with Harvey Finberg, whom also helped me be the referee I am today and who, like Mike, is now hopefully reffing soccer greats from yesteryear, it is hard to not feel a sense of loss. Mike, may you rest in peace.

Monday, July 9, 2018


There has been a lot of soccer going on due to the World Cup. And it has been fun for the most part. The one thing that I don't care for too much is the VAR. While I agree that it adds fairness to the game, it is also ripe for misapplication. For instance, the Spain-Russia match had an instance towards the end of the match where one of the Russian players was grabbing the Spaniard while there was a cross heading into the box. They decided not to review when to me it looked like a clear PK.

Evidently, there is a system of criteria that we are not fully aware of. I suspect that the VAR is being used if no one saw the incident. But if the booth believes that the center, ARs or the 4th got a good look and communicated about it and still decided to not call, then they won't push for a review. At least that it what it looks like. Still not sure I like it.

As for the only real thing that I can say is new in the soccer world at the World Cup that is something I would like to call out is all the smiling that the center referees are showing. They make a call, and for the most part, they smile. It either conveys one of two things, I saw what you did there and let's be smart about it because I am on to you or to say that they have no idea what you are saying. Either way, it looks good. The optics of it from far away convey knowledge and is probably something I will add to my repertoire.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reffing adults while tired

So you may have seen that there is a World Cup soccer thing going in Russia. I plan to do some commentary on that. Especially something like the Poland-Senegal goal that was unfortunate and the Colombia red card in the 3rd minute of play.

But today I want to talk about reffing when mentally tired. I don't seem to have much luck or I basically commit self inflicted wounds when reffing while mentally tired. For some reason, when I am tired like I was last week (the cause was that I had to go get someone at the airport at 2am and then work a regular day and then ref a 9pm match that night), I don't deal with situations well. I see myself as have a short temper and what is worse, I noticed I was falling into this pit, sending the game into the crapper and there was little I seemed I could do to get out.

There was no reset button and the teams tried to work with me, one team realizing before the other that I was in a foul mood and they didn't talk back too much. The other one, perhaps to no fault of their own, seemed to be more than willing to take my foul mood which I couldn't seem to get a handle of and tried to see how much fouler they could make it.

It boiled over, I issued a red card for foul language and I wish I would have had some techniques to be able to deal with my terrible mood. I did not do the game any favors and felt like I blew it. I wonder what you all have in your referee bag of tricks for when you aren't 100% on your game.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Injury and other musings

Had a good scare trying to do a fitness test for the PRO matches. I was doing the men's AR test and things were going splendidly. I had the CODA test (change of direction) and that one was fine. Then came the 6 sprints. 30 meters in 4.7 seconds. Ran the first 5 just fine. All around 4.3 or 4.4 seconds. Last one, the moment I push off of my left leg to start, I feel the back of my thigh go jelly.

I finish the sprint in 4.67 seconds apparently and then I had to talk to the trainer. He said that I probably tweaked my one of the three muscles in the back that we commonly call the hamstring and to keep things warm for my run as it probably would be ok if I let my adrenaline do the running.

That test, on a good day is grueling. Each lap is 75 meters of almost sprint speeds followed by 25 meters of walking, in 4 sections. Men's FIFA AR dictates that you need to run that in 15 seconds for the 75 and 20 seconds for the 25 meters.

I managed to run three laps before my body said that it was silly to continue trying. I had to return games I had for the next day and for high school. I thought my season would be over as hamstring injuries are all about rest and elevation etc. Not really anything you can do to speed things up.

Anyway, fast forward a week and I am getting antsy, as well as feeling fine. I did a bit of jogging and things felt just fine. I even ordered some compression sleeves for the thighs but alas the post office has found a way to lose the package, so no idea where they are at the moment.

Still, I take a low level game for my standards to see if I can actually run. It is for a tournament over the Memorial Day holiday. The match is a stand alone U14 girls final. Just as I arrive at the field (grass fields only at that location), the heavens open up and down comes a lot of rain. The tournament organizer suggests that all the matches slated to start at that time to talk to the coaches to see what they want to do (wait and play or declare themselves co-champs and go home).

My two teams are from about 100 miles away and 250 miles away, so the coaches decide to call it a tie and get on the road early. Great in the sense that I am going to get paid for essentially negotiating a truce but still no idea if I can really run for any significant amount of time.

So Tuesday rolls around and I was originally scheduled for a boys regional semifinal in high school without really knowing if I could run for 80+ minutes. One goal and 4.77 miles later, I answered the question, the leg is fine. Since, I have done one other high school match and the leg felt ok as well.

On the other match, it was just recently and it was a regional semi-final, so the losing school would be done for the year. I am AR1. Game is a high friction, high intensity match with one team pushing hard for the opening goal and the other team playing some counter mixed in with a lot of fouling.

Start of the second half and the home team scores and is dominating. Many yellows are pulled for the visitors and  they cannot really break through the defense. In one of the rare mistakes, the home team loses the ball in transition and the visiting midfielder loops a long pass to two streaking attackers. One attacker going down the middle of the field is onside while the other off close to my touchline as he was slow getting back.

The looping pass kind of gets held up a bit thanks to the wind and the rain. If there had not been any elements to contend with, the ball would have gone to the central attacker who was onside, but since it did get held up, it floats more towards the offside attacker. Sure enough, the attacker runs onto the ball, makes an absolutely fantastic volley that lofts over the keeper and into the net. Enormous celebrations ensue until they see my flag up. It sucked having to call such a nice goal back.

What was worse was that there were perhaps five minutes left on the clock when that happened and so they realized that their chance of tying had pretty much slipped away. The level of hate directed at my call, at me and to referees in general was next level. To the point where we had to essentially get out of the stadium quickly because it seemed like there was a bit of mob mentality brewing.

Next time, the place to set up is not near the exit. It is let everyone else leave and then go to your car in a group. But, again, at least the leg was fine. So at least I have that going for me.