Monday, September 12, 2016

New DOGSO

Before I comment on the new DOGSO and my brush with it early in the new rule process, let me start by asking, where have all the referees gone? This weekend, which was the start of many leagues as well as State Cup, was brutal. My son had a center and two ARs that probably could even get a learner's permit in the state of Virginia. And that game was covered at least.

Ok, back to the DOGSO chat. As mentioned last week, the laws were altered a bit to reflect the need to eliminate the triple whammy when there is a denial of a clear chance to score and the foul was committed in the penalty area and resulted in a PK. If in your eternal wisdom, you believe there was an honest attempt to play the ball, but it resulted in a foul and not the result of pushing, pulling, handling or some other ill conceived attempt, then after the whistle, the person who committed the foul should be shown a yellow instead of a red if inside the penalty area. No change outside the penalty area, the red card is still shown in these cases.

The Labor Day weekend, I worked 6 matches. 2 centers and 4 ARs. And I got very lucky. My 4 ARs had the final scores of 6-0, 6-0, 9-0 and 6-0. My 2 centers nestled in those 4 lopsided matches were 3-1 and 5-3. Both very evenly matched and challenging in their own right. The first match, on Saturday was a U15 match. The game was not a hard match to call until the moment of truth. With White up 2-1 they were playing a very high line in their defense. It was something I couldn't really grasp why they were pressing so hard with the lead. The only way Red was generating chances was when white messed up their possession in the defense, so I wasn't too sure why white insisted in having their back line so far away from their keeper. Sure enough, with 10 minutes left in the second half, white lost the ball and red put a nice through ball to an attacker who outran the defender for a clear one on one chance with the white keeper the only defender standing in her way from tying up the match. The white keeper had been playing at the edge of her 18 all game since she had to clear a couple of balls before. She sprints out and the attacker and keeper meet about 25 yards from goal. The attacker makes a great cut to her left and the keeper sticks her leg out. She misses the ball and trips the attacker. Clear attempt to play the ball, but sadly, outside the box, and therefore a red card. It ended up working out in the end for white as the free kick resulted in nothing and then white ended up scoring an insurance goal.

In my other game, it was a U18 boys match. With the match 2-2, blue makes a great string of passes on white and leaves the blue attacker essentially one on one with the white keeper. As blue is about to take the shot with his right foot, a defender came in from the left, went through the attackers legs to get to the ball. It was a tough call in my head but I felt the attempt was "honest enough" where he tried to play the ball, albeit in a low percentage type tackle. It was still DOGSO but inside the box and it resulted in a PK, so I showed the yellow. In truth, I really didn't think it was that much of a DOGSO choice until a referee observer told me that he thought my new interpretation of the DOGSO was spot on. Funny how things work out like that sometimes.

Friday, September 9, 2016

New Stuff

It has been a while and for that I apologize. I have not been as diligent in writing, not because I don't have material, but rather, life seems to get in the way. One child is a senior, another a freshman and one starting Kindergarten so things were hectic these last couple of months.

So all this new stuff is hitting us since we last talked. Kickoffs can go backwards, new uniforms and you can't score on yourself off of a corner anymore. Where is the fun in all of this? Seriously, the things that matter most are the new uniforms. They look better, but the change in logo means we have to change EVERYTHING? I have 10 shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, countless pairs of socks (that initially don't change, thankfully) and a myriad of other USSF logoed things. I calculated the cost of my entire wardrobe change will be in the $350-$400 range. And being a grade 6, you kind of are expected to have Official Sports, and only Official Sports gear. Gee thanks. At least we can use the old stuff for another couple of years, but again, as a 6, I will be expected to buy the new gear sooner rather than later. Not cool.

Moving on to the new rules, I have read a couple of posts on the new rules and have the new IFAB document that has the new rules incorporated. The link is here: http://www.theifab.com/#!/document. The new rules have a lot of common sense in them. Everyone used to tap the ball forward on kickoffs to have the second touch go backwards towards their midfielders 90% of the time, so why not eliminate the silly rule that the kick off had to go forward? It makes sense. I like it. There are a number of other rule changes as well. Fouls outside the field of play are now not a dropped ball if the ball was in play at the time. Just like that, there are a bunch of others. I do want to focus on the one that does affect us the most in terms of determining the outcome of a game, and that is the new DOGSO-F interpretation.

Before I go any further, I have NOT attended a new rules class (mostly because I was out of town the week that it was offered before the season started) so please understand that this is my possibly misguided interpretation of what the rules are. Don't take this as fact but rather as my initial interpretation.

With regards to DOGSO-F, the way I interpret it now is that the law makers decided to remove the so called triple whammy. That is, foul as last defender that denies obvious goal scoring opportunity inside the penalty area used to cause the following:

- Penalty kick called against the team committing the foul which as a high chance of being converted
- Red card for the defender
- Next game sit out for the defender

Now if there is a foul where the defender meets the criteria of committing a DOGSO-F foul and is genuinely trying to play the ball (not shoving, pulling the shirt, etc.) and the foul is committed inside the penalty area, then the card to show is a yellow. If it is outside of the penalty area, then it is still a red. This changes things quite a bit, in terms of considerations for the referee as now there is a change in thought process until we all get used to the new laws.

In my next article, I will speak to the last two centers where I had to apply DOGSO-F in each of them.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Don't keep it a secret

As I work these higher level games, 2 conclusions come to mind. One of them is that you get to work with many incredible, driven, determined and confident individuals and some of them are almost half my age. Quite incredible if you ask me. The other is that you don't really get paid any more than you did for the previous level of matches. These past two weekends, I worked a couple of WPSL matches that were quite interesting, especially in light of the little things you hear that are useful in my future matches.

In the level of talking, there is more than I normally do. The typical, "straight up", "don't be silly", etc. Then the other one that I heard as an AR for the first time was, "don't keep it a secret". Basically the center asked us to vocalize something that both teams could benefit from. His particular example was a ball that was on the touch line but not fully out, spinning close to the line or questionable. Everybody knows when it goes out because the AR will signal, but he had a ball that was not fully out and it looked out but was spinning in place and a player grabbed the ball thinking it was out with her hands. That lead to the only game of the match. He was being assessed and was told to not keep it a secret in an instance like that, where both teams can benefit from the information and no do something silly. While I believe that most of us do that as a center, we rarely do it as an AR. I liked the fact that the scenario presented clearly indicates when it is beneficial. This applies more at the higher levels rather than at the lower levels where interaction between referee and player is more ceremonial to verbalize it in a way. I know I don't verbalize nearly enough especially when I am an AR to players. What do you all think about the more verbalization?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Communicating with players

It has been a while again. I do apologize. What has kept me busy these past 5-6 weeks is what I want to talk about today. Since my last post, I have gone ahead and started working a lot more at the higher level leagues (yes, being a 6 has its advantages, and disadvantages). One of the advantages is being able to work PDL matches and CCL 23 matches, etc.

These matches are at a whole other level than the typical U15 match. There is a lot more thought and purposefulness to everything that goes on. In one PDL match, we had to arrive 90 minutes prior to kick off, had a minute by minute time table set out in our locker room and had actual paying public at the door. Not stuff I am used to.

One of the main things that really got me was the use of the communication systems. In the PDL match where I was a fourth official and then a State Cup final where I was AR2, I had the benefit of using an open mic system akin to what the professionals use. And it was mind blowing in terms of the different tactics that the centers used to convey their thoughts, what they were seeing and the level of chatter compared to what I am used to.

I was not aware at how little I talked until I started doing these open mic matches where I can hear all the little things that are said as part of drive bys and during dead time. In the PDL match, I worked with a center who kept the peace with players by saying "I'm right here" when action was happening. He did that to convey that he was close by and seeing what was going on and was either allowing it or to dissuade a defender from doing something silly. And it worked quite well. One thing that I will put in my back pocket.

The other one was during a State Cup final where the center referee kept telling the players what exactly happened (and again, position had a lot to do with that, since he was where he needed to be to sell the call he was making or not making). And he told them things like "I saw that, it went off your shoulder, I know you think it went off him, but you were too busy trying to head the ball that you didn't see it go off you, don't worry I got it." Things like that, it relaxed the players, especially at that level, the higher level players where things work differently than our garden variety U14 match, where players are scared to talk to the referee.

I am finding it so hard to work back down to the U12 levels now that I haven't done a low level match in 2-3 months. But this weekend, I go back to that, so hopefully I can still ref that level after working higher level matches almost exclusively for the past 2 months.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Play on Project

These past couple of weeks I started reffing more the adult league that has ethnic teams participating and that gave me an idea. A couple of months ago, I was thinking how best to say "Play on" in Spanish and there are a good three or four ways, but not sure what the official way is to say it.

Siga and Ventaja are two ways that come to mind. I will eventually look in the Spanish version of the Laws of the Game to see what word they are using specifically.

Possibly other ways, but it got me thinking with these teams that are many ethnic players that there should be a possible point of reference. So I asked the two teams, one team was mainly people from Uzbekistan and the other team was mostly from South Korea. This is what they said, though they also had a couple of ways to say it.

For Uzbek it would be something like Oyna which they said means play or dance. For Korean it was He (or possibly Je). They were a little more unanimous in stating the proper way of saying Play On. But as time goes by and I get more teams like this, I will ask them and document it as something I will call my "Play on project".

Hopefully it comes in useful to you when it is your game or you are ever on "Referee Jeopardy".

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Defending one of our own

I bet some of you reading this at home think I make some of this stuff up, but I don't. If I am posting well after an event, I may not remember all the details exactly, so that is why I am writing this one while it is really fresh in my mind.

My son plays club soccer and high school soccer as well as being a referee sometimes. Tonight he had a game and I was in attendance. As many of you know, I am not a huge fan of high school because of the different rules, the whole extension of the classroom concept and a few other things.

This evening, I recognized the center and the AR on our side. Most schools have one side for the home team parents and one side for the away team parents. That is the case at my son's school. During the second half, while my son's team is up by 6 or so, I start to hear from behind me the following comments, increasing in volume and intensity as the game winds down.

"AR, you are not even with the second to last defender."

"AR you can't keep up play."

"AR you suck."

"AR, that was a foul, raise your f***ing flag."

I knew the AR well enough to recognize that he did one of my 7 to 6 assessments, so I KNEW he was a good AR and that he was keeping up with play as best as he could and that over all, he was doing what he should be doing, not letting his guard down just because the game was 6-0 (in fact, some will say that this is the time you have to be at your most attentive, because something might blow up just as you start to get complacent).

So I turn around to the yelling parent and ask him, "Do you know Pat?" He was giving him such a hard time that I figured he must know him and was giving him a hard time because they were friends and there was some friendly ribbing going on. What he said next told me quite the contrary.

"No, I don't know who he is, but he is laughing with the coaches and he is not paying attention and he is just home cooking."

At that point I disengaged, we were in an area where there weren't many other parents and I just started looking at my phone. About 2-3 minutes later, the angry parent starts up again.

"AR, you can't call that."

"Where did you learn to hold up an offside flag?"

"The ball went out back there AR, have some f***ing balls and make them throw it in back there."

I turned around and said to the guy that it was enough, that I knew that AR and that the crew deserved more respect. He tells me to go into his face and make him stop and gets up and starts walking towards me. At that point, I figure there is nothing to gain and I try to disengage again but not before he gets close and I smell quite a bit of alcohol on him, so I say to him "Oh you're just flat out drunk, that explains everything." and walk away. A couple of parents come over to see what is going on and I watch the rest of the game from farther down the stands.

At the end of the game (7-1 was the final), the parent comes back towards me and tells me again to make him shut up, to which I laugh and walk away. I really couldn't believe that this parent would do such a thing when there was nothing to really get all riled up about. The game was a blowout, and pinning things on the AR was really not something that made much sense.

So Pat, if you are reading this and heard the guy in the second half, just know it was me that stood up for you. You did a great job tonight! All I hope is that this guy did not drive home with his kid. Hopefully his kid had a driver's license and could drive his old man home since he was probably over the limit.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Refcation

Great weekend a couple of weekends ago. There is a somewhat remote assignor that I enjoy working for because the association really strives to take care of the referees that are traveling. So at the last minute, I reached out to her to tell her that I could be there with my daughter (my son is on a ref break, also called having a girlfriend. Side note, he will be back, he is going to need the money).

This assignor worked her magic and got me games for Thursday, Friday and Saturday and I was able to loop it to a vacation for Saturday through Monday. So I was able to work 8 games between Thursday and Saturday while my daughter worked two matches and mostly was stand-by. I enjoyed the time because when we were done, my daughter and I went to the movies one night, went to dinner and just had a good father/daughter time and someone was actually paying us to be there for a while (and work games or be standby for a while). Still, it was a good way to loop work that I enjoy with time away from the office and other distractions to spend one on one time with my daughter. It was worth more than all the reffing I did.

One note regarding that weekend that jumps on top of what I said in a previous post about kids no really knowing the rules. The other post referenced U15 girls and not understanding advantage. This new game was more telling than the U15 girls.

The scenario was a college showcase level U16 match (read, very experienced girls playing). Score is blue 2, white 0. White is pushing hard in the last 2 minutes of the match. Their strikers makes a great move on the defender, breaks free and heads one on one with the keeper. She then fakes out the keeper and sends her sprawling and is about to tap it in the goal when the keeper reaches out and grabs her foot on the backswing and knocks her down.

I blow the whistle, point to the PK and make sure the attacker is ok. Once that is settled, I walk over to the keeper and show her the red card as she was the last defender as the shot would have been a tap in with no keeper or defender. The blue team freaks out (not the coach at least) asking why that is a red card. I thought about it for a while, how do this girls not know what the punishment is for committing a foul that essentially can negate a goal? Have they never experienced that before? Have they had this before but the other referee did not pull out a red?

Since it is a college showcase tournament, there was a no playing down requirement in the rules and therefore, the blue team brought on their other keeper. White scores the PK and the game ends about 2 minutes later, 2-1. The coach for blue said that it was the right call, so I have that going for me. But what I question or ponder in this post is that the rules are really not well known or something else is amiss. I am not sure what. Why do you think there is a lack of understanding with some of the lesser seen plays in soccer? Is it the players or the referees? Is it because we just don't have that many DOGSO situations?

Funny thing is that the only two times I have shown red cards to girls has been for DOGSO. Never have I had violent conduct, two yellows for anything, etc. Boys on the other hand, the 2-3 reds I have shown them have all been for VC, two yellows or something along those lines. No DOGSO for them, but I do recall one game many years ago where a U11 travel game would have been DOGSO had I had the guts to red card an 11 year old keeper. I am sure it is somewhere in one of my old posts.