Friday, December 19, 2008

Training in Cold Weather

I was just in Lancaster, Calif. for the Development Academy Winter Showcase and it was a great experience for anyone that wants to be part of the pro track. This is one of the best avenues to be seen by the US Soccer staff, and it was great to head across the country where there was good weather for playing soccer.

For me and many other referees, we do not get to be in many climates that are ideal for training. How does a referee, who lives in a climate where 5 inches of snow is common, stay in shape is and get the most out of each workout? How do we make sure we are ready to go to warm and sunny places and be prepared to do our best work?

Here are some of the things that I do, and I hope they will help you all be ready for the next opportunity that comes to you. There is a lot that goes into a workout, and I cannot cover this all in one blog, but I want to share some more in other blogs to come. Here are some examples. Outdoor workouts in general and particularly in less then ideal weather conditions. Different workouts for utilizing soccer fields, tracks, aths, and road training. I will also cover things to think about for indoor workouts and how to maximize the use of indoor tracks, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes for cross training, intervals, distance training, sprints, and rest. I hope these will help you be fit and strong for the long soccer seasons.

The first subject I would like to talk about is the issue of working out in these not so ideal conditions. You have to be careful when the conditions are not safe running. The cold is one thing, but running when it is icy or snowing is another. You need be smart when you make the choice to move indoors from the preferred outdoor training.

Outdoors in the cold:

  • You need to get the body warm almost like it would be in a workout in warmer weather but you need to be careful. If you are a person who sweats a lot, the moisture may cause issues if you are not careful. You will need consider the following:
    • Cooling down will happen quicker in the cold
    • Chance of hypothermia
    • Chance of frost bite to exposed body parts
    • Most of the time you need to keep your work rate high and keep your recovery short
      • A short recovery is doable, but be careful on starts and stops
      • Doing the new interval fitness test is just enough time - try 30 seconds going hard with 35 second recovery (Long distance is usually is easier for this)
    • Sprints: be careful of footing on starts and stops I do not do these unless ground is clear. In another blog, I will tell you what I do to replace this.
  • Layers
    • You can take off if needed
    • Most of your body heat goes from your head. A good hat keeps you from losing this needed heat for the body
    • Gloves must protect the small fingers from frost bite
    • Dry-fit material: you start with this to do two things warmth and to pull the moister away from your skin
    • T-shirt levels with insulation that can be adjusted as needed
    • Sweat pants this to is an other layer of insulation
    • And the last should be a shell of some type to block wind and keep rain or snow off
  • Warm-up
    • Needs to be longer to make sure your muscle are ready to do the work
    • It needs to be a gradual build up
  • Recovery
    • Try to plan cool down so you are near indoors
    • Do not rush to rip your clothes off
    • Stretch while taking off articles in doors
  • Maximize your planning so you do not have to be in the conditions any longer then needed. Just setting up cones and taking them down for example
  • Effort - You only out of a workout what you put into it. If you only do half the work out or you only do it at low intensity when it is a high intensity day, do not expect to have the results you are suppose to.
I'll be back soon with more workout tips for staying shape in the offseason. Until then Happy Holidays to everybody reading the Official Take Blog!
- Terry Vaughn

Monday, December 8, 2008

Referee Spotlight at the Development Academy

As you probably know, the Development Academy isn't a benefit for players only. It is also playing a huge part in developing our nations refereeing corps. One of those referees, Jasen Anno, has moved up through the ranks to ref MLS games as well as internationals. We sat down with Jasen to learn more about how he's progressed through his officiating career:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Helpful Note from Ricardo Salazar

I have seen this all too frequently when I both played and coached at the collegiate level. Now I am sending out a warning to you so you don’t get caught: Most athletes don’t realize how many calories they are consuming during the season and don’t adjust their diet when the season is over. It is important that when taking a break (one or two days off) we are mindful of what we are putting into our bodies. We can not continue to eat like we were during the peak time of the season.

During the MLS season the referees are in a similar situation. I want to point out our game day routine (not everyone is the same so some may very). For me, when I have a 7:30 p.m. kickoff I have my pre game meal four hours prior. If you do the math, the game takes two hours and we are in the stadium two hours before kickoff. Then, we are doing our post-game routine in the stadium, including but not limited to writing the match report, reviewing the game, speaking with the referee inspector and getting cleaned up. It might be 11 p.m. before we are able to have dinner, and believe me after working hard you are ready for some food. During a high level game, the referee can burn 1500 to 1900 calories. Well, when I am not working or during the off season, I try not to consume anything after 8 p.m.

There are a few things a referee can control: fitness and consumption. Everyone is different and you have to know your own body as to what it needs to be at your peak performance. Refereeing at the highest level deals a lot with the game flow and identifying misconducts. The referee must prepare him/herself so you are performing at your maximal capacity.

Check back as I will be writing on how I prepare myself during the week to be at maximal capacity for game time.

Ricardo Salazar

US Soccer Referee

Thursday, October 30, 2008

U.S. Soccer Referees Nominated for MLS Awards

MLS announced the finalists for its season end awards today, with U.S. Soccer Referees Jair Marrufo and Terry Vaughn picking up nods for the 2008 Referee of the Year award. The pair will vie with Mike Kennedy for the award, which is to be given away on November 6 from MLS headquarters in New York. For a full list of the season end awards, click here.

Jair Marrufo Pre-Selected for World Cup

U.S. Soccer referee Jair Marrufo has been pre-selected to represent the CONCACAF region at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. FIFA released a list of 38 officials from which the referees for the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be chosen.

All 38 referees have attended various FIFA seminars and officiated in FIFA competitions since 2006, when the selection process began. Candidates were judged on performance in international matches, as well as various tests, including technical, physical and medical tests. Marrufo is joined on the list by fellow CONCACAF referees Joel Aguilar from El Salvador, Benito Archundia and Marco Rodriguez from Mexico and Carlos Batres from Guatemala

Friday, October 17, 2008

2nd Round Blog from the FIFA Futsal World Cup


U.S. Referee Jason Krnac is representing the United States at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil. He's blogging about his experience from Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

Friday, October 10, 2008
It is another rest day in Brazil. I woke early for a morning jog so that I could see the sun rise over the lake. After lunch a group of us decided to take a shuttle to a mall that was in downtown Brasilia. It was much like the other malls we visited except this one had four levels were the others had only two. At the evening classroom session, we met the three referees who worked the first round matches in Rio and they will be joining us here for the second round matches.


Saturday, October 11, 2008
Today, I was assigned to be the timekeeper in the Argentina vs. Paraguay match. It was a good game that ended in a 3-3 draw. In the afternoon, we had a fitness session in the pool where we did more water aerobics and had a water volleyball match. In the evening assignments were handed out along with discussion of the matches that took place today.




Sunday, October 12, 2008

Today, I was assigned to be the first referee of the Russia vs. Paraguay match. The game was intense as well as difficult and challenging. At halftime, the game was 2-1 in favor of Russia. The second half was even more challenging and difficult as the first half, with the lead changing three times. Russia scored a goal in the last second of the game to win the match. The afternoon fitness took place on a tennis court with a game our trainer called “Burnt”; it was similar to a dodge ball game with only one ball. The evening was free of a debriefing session since tomorrow is a “rest day”.

October 12th in Brazil is a public holiday. Children's Day is celebrated on October 12, which is also the day of Our Lady of Aparecida, a public holiday in Brazil. The celebration brought Thousands of families into the main stretch of the Brasilia, for a variety of activities, performance stages, and vendors. Our hotel also celebrated on Saturday and Sunday with various kid themed activities, both indoors and outdoors.

Monday, October 13, 2008It is another rest day here in Brazil. This will allow teams to travel to different cities so that both group matches are played at the same time. The final group games are played simultaneously in different venues so that neither team has the advantage of knowing the other result before their match kicks off. For the referees, some went on a tour of Brasilia, some went shopping at a local mall, and some stayed at the hotel visiting the pool. Seeing that I already did the city tour and had been to three different shopping centers, I choose to relax by the pool after a morning jog. At the evening debriefing meeting, we talked about the matches from Sunday. The assignments for the final day of the second round were also announced, I will be the timekeeper on the Iran vs. Italy match.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Today, I was assigned to be the timekeeper on the Iran vs. Italy match. The match ended in a 5-5 draw. Upon returning to the hotel, we awaited the announcements of who was going to be going to Rio for the next round and who was heading home. The process was the same as before, individual meeting with the panel of instructors and assessor. I received notice that I that my FIFA Futsal World Cup journey was going to be ending. I am very grateful for this experience to represent US Soccer and CONCACAF at this tournament. I will leave here with many new friends and lessons learned. The entire tournament was a continuous learning experience.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008
It was a morning to say our last goodbyes and also wish the referees who move forward the best of luck in the next stages of the tournament. I was not leaving until the afternoon, so after finalizing all my packing, I decided to head to the pool for awhile with the Italy Referee. The weather, as it was been most of the time here, was just beautiful - sunny skies, very light breeze. As my time here in Brazil was ending, I had time to reflect on all the new people I met, the experiences both on and off the pitch, the matches that I worked and watched throughout the tournament, and the lasting friendships that began because of the experience I had of attending the FIFA Futsal World Cup. I hope you enjoyed reading my daily experiences. I enjoyed being a representative of U.S. Soccer and CONCACAF. Thank You, Jason Krnac

Photos:
1.
Getting ready for a match in the locker room
2. Crew for Russia vs. Paraguay match
3. Three Officials (Australian, Malaysian, Hungarian Referees [Left to Right]) wearing and showing off some U.S. Soccer gifts.
4.Crew for Iran vs. Italy match

Saturday, October 11, 2008

More from Brasilia

U.S. Referee Jason Krnac is representing the United States at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil. He's blogging about his experience from Brasilia.

Thursday, October 9, 2008
The last day of First Round matches which decide the last 4 teams to qualify for the next round out of Groups C and D. There is much anticipation and nervousness within the group of referees. All decided to travel to the arena to either work the last two games or be a spectator in the lively crowd. None of us know if this is our last trip to the arena and no one wants to miss any of the action.

After the matches, a short sight seeing and shopping tour was organized. The bus made several stops where we could see and learn a little history about Brasilia. On one stop, we were able to see a complete miniaturization of the city. Unfortunately, I could not capture the entire city in one photograph and the photos that did come out were too dark to post.

As a group, we spent about an hour in a flea market atmosphere which is located under a large tower. I did take a trip up to the observation deck of the tower and was able to capture some great photos of the city.
When we returned to the hotel, we preceded with our individual interviews in front of a four person panel. The scene was like American Idol, one by one, we went before the panel. The group greeted you upon your exit from the room; showing the support that all of us have for each other.

My news…. I am staying in Brasilia to work games in the Second Round. I am excited and honored to have been selected to continue to represent CONCACAF and U.S. Soccer by being a part of the next stage in the FIFA Futsal World Cup.In the evening we took a break from the usual meal at the hotel restaurant buffet. We all traveled to a local restaurant, Porcao - a Brazilian churrascaria, for an amazing dinner. It was nice to able to spend one last evening all together as a group before the seven depart for their homes, as well as the three who will be traveling to Rio de Janeiro to work games there.
Photos:
1.View of Brasilia from the tower
2.Another view of Brasilia from the tower
3.JK Memorial (initials for the individual who had the vision to build and make Brasilia the Capital of Brazil- Juscelino Kubitschek)
4.National Congress Building
5.Group Photo at entrance of Porcao

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Referee Training Day


In the morning we traveled back to Marina Barra Club for training, the weather was on our side this morning with warm and sunny skies. Our fitness and practical training took place outside. These were our last training sessions together before the tournament begins on Tuesday. They both were intense sessions. The fitness session we were given a choice of running the entire time or alternate walking and running. No one opted for the second option. We ran at quick pace for 20 minutes then stretched. In the practical training we worked again on positioning, eye contact, signaling, and foul selection in a handball exercise. Then in the corner of the pitch, we participated in an exercise that simulated ball going over the goal line or touch line and we had to see who last played it and then give the correct signal. Our classroom session started and ended an hour earlier to be able to travel to Estádio do Maracanã to watch Clube de Regatas do Flamengo vs. Sport Club do Recife. The atmosphere inside the stadium wasllively, even though the rain was falling throughout the match making it very challenging to play. The home side, after being down 1-0 came back to score two late goes to win and send the crowd home cheering.

Assignments were announced for the first four match days next week. Everyone in the room was eager to hear their name called. I will be the Timekeeper for Argentina vs. China on Match Day Two (Wednesday). I will also be the referee for Solomon Islands vs. Brazil on Match Day Three (Thursday). I am very excited and look forward to working as a member of the officiating crew in these matches.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Marina Barra Club

In the morning we traveled to Marina Barra Club for both Fitness and Practical training. The club is on an island, the surrounding waterway attracts people who cast nets from bridges attempting to catch small minnows or shiners. This morning, unlike yesterday, a very strong odor was coming from water. Today for fitness training, we stretched and then ran three laps around the trail that was next to the waterway before going indoors due to thunderstorms. While inside we continued with interval circuit training that involved various movements and core exercises. The practical training tested the referee decision making and signaling as the exercises simulated various game situations.


The evening was very special we attended the FIFA Dinner Banquet. A wonderful meal was served, various small plate appetizers, followed by selections of steak and seafood, along with a two chef fresh pasta station, and to end the meal was variety of small desserts, my favorite was the chocolate covered strawberries.



Just before dinner every referee was presented with a watch and FIFA Futsal World Cup Commemorative medal. A professional photographer was on had to capture all the events of the evening. This was a great time for the group to bond before half the group departs for Brasilia on Sunday. The U.S. National Team is playing in Rio de Janeiro.

Blog from the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil

U.S. Referee Jason Krnac is representing the United States at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil. He's blogging about his experience from Rio de Janeiro.

I am very honored to have received this appointment to the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil. It is an honor for me to have this opportunity to represent CONCACAF and US Soccer at this prestigious tournament. I want to share my experiences with all of you.

- Sunday, September 21, 2008

This was the scheduled arrival day for all referees. My flight arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the morning, with my travel beginning in the early afternoon the day before. Upon arrival I waited for two other officials to arrive and then we were shuttled to the hotel, which was about an hour from the airport. The hotel is beautiful and the accommodations have been first class. At check-in I received an envelope with my tournament credentials and the detailed daily program schedule for each day in the entire tournament. At both lunch and dinner, I enjoyed meeting and spending time with the other referees who were arriving. A total of 32 referees and 2 alternates, each representing a different country with the exception of Brazil (who has a referee and an alternate), were appointed to the tournament.

- Monday, September 22, 2008

The day began with breakfast at 7a.m., which was followed by the first fitness session at 9 a.m., led by our team of fitness trainers. The group walked outside the hotel, and stretched in an area that was just adjacent to the beach – a really beautiful site. Then we were led two-by-two down the running/bike paths along the road next to the beach. This was a picturesque backdrop for our 20 minute jog. The final stage of our fitness training was stretching. The entire activity was about 45 minutes.

The classroom sessions began at 11 a.m. and went to 5 p.m. In the morning we had two presentations led by a team of FIFA Instructors. One was on the History of FIFA and the other was on Administration Logistics by a FIFA referee department administrator. The group had an hour lunch break. In the afternoon, the topics covered specific Futsal Laws of the Game.

- Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our schedule for each day is roughly the same. We traveled by charter bus and vans for about an hour to Miecimo da Silva Sports Complex. This center is used by the local people to participate in a variety of sports and fitness classes. The sports complex has several volleyball, tennis and basketball courts, several futsal pitches, a full size football field surrounded by a track and spectator area, swimming and diving venue and an indoor multi-sport stadium. It housed a variety of events for the Pan American Games in 2007. We trained indoors for about an hour. This was followed by a practical field session which lasted an hour. The purpose of the field sessions is to put the theory into practice. For example our activities today included practicing our signals and field positioning.

The goal of the practical and theory sessions is to standardize the interpretations and applications within the Laws of the Game. Upon our return to the hotel, we had lunch. The afternoon sessions began at 3 p.m. and lasted until 6 p.m. One of the most anticipated topics was the administration of the fitness test. The fitness training team went through all the details. The futsal fitness test consists of a 1,000 meter endurance run (in 4 minutes) on the track. Then a speed test of 4 x 10 meters (in 10. seconds). Then an agility test which covers 80 meters in a variety of movements (30 forward, 10 sideways to right, 10 sideways left, 10 backwards, and 20 forward) in 20.5 seconds. The sprint and agility tests are repeated.

- Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The group was split into three groups. I was in group three, which allowed me to sleep in a little. The bus departed at 7 a.m. with groups one and two. The van departed at 8:30 a.m. with group three. After the hour ride and upon arrival we went inside and supported the others as they were finishing up the sprint and agility tests. We cheered and encouraged them to finish strong. They did the same when they were finished. All participants passed the test.

- Thursday, September 25, 2008

The fitness and practical sessions took place at Marina Barra Club, a private club, which was much closer to the hotels (about 10-minute ride). This allowed up more time for the practical training sessions. The club offered multiple activities for its members, such as clay and hard service tennis courts, beach volleyball court, two futsal pitches outside and one futsal pitch inside and a pool and fitness center. Since it was raining, we trained on the indoor pitch.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Referee Academy for 2008 Women's Nike Friendlies

A combination referees from Southern California and the rest of the country came together from Aug. 20 to 24 for the 2008 Women's Nike Friendlies.

A total of 28 high caliber U-15, U-16 and U-17 teams, including three U.S. Youth National Teams, gave the U.S. Soccer Referee Department a chance to provide real-time feed back to a group of talented referees of different experience levels.

Sandra Serafini, a FIFA referee from North Carolina, was on hand as the head instructor, working along with U.S. Soccer Director of Referee Education Alfred Kleinaitis.

Listen here to an interview with Serafini that is an overview of the event and touches on the philosophies the instructors use as well as the goals of the event.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

USA WINS

Wow, what an amazing evening and a wonderful night to be representing the USA. The match was incredible, with of course the USWNT winning GOLD. The support of Women’s soccer was inspiring with over 50, ooo people in attendance including FIFA President Blatter, IOC President Jacques Rogge, Pele, Kobe Bryant, and Michelle Kwan…

Following the match, we had a ceremony of our own with all the referees being awarded our very own Olympic Medal and personalized certificate of participation. The only thing missing upon receipt was the playing of the National Anthem!
With the Women’s portion of the tournament completed, the women referees return to their respective countries on Friday. We all have mixed feeling about our departure; sad that the event we all dreamed of participating in for our entire lives is coming to an end, but at the same time looking forward to being on US soil with the opportunity to order a burrito on any given day :) :)

Thank you everyone for all your support these last many weeks. Wishing you all the best from Beijing.

Kari & Team

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Honor

It is always an honor to work a final match, in any capacity. There is no exception in this case. Kari has been selected to be the 4th official for the Bronze medal match of Germany v Japan. May the best team win and may the ball roll straight for the team of officials. Go USA.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thank You Official Sports International

Official Sports International has always been a wonderful supporter of US Referees, and this event was no exception. They supplied us with 90 sac pacs to give as gifts to the referees and administrators at the 2008 Olympic Games. The bags were a big hit, with lots of use on the trip to the Great Wall (I hear).


In the photo below Kari, Marlene & Veronica are modeling the great new women's cut polos. We really love them.


Thank you OSI!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Night for Brazil

For most of our Quarterfinal match, Brazil was in full control of the ball and the play over rival Norway. After the first goal was scored on a rocket from Daniela at about 30 yards, you could see the Norwegians lose confidence. That was until the 81st minute when the Brazilian GK (the reserve GK) took down a Norwegian player near the touchline and Norway scored from the resulting Penalty Kick (By the way, any ideas why that was not a red card for DOGSO??). From then we had another 13 minutes of strong play.

Overall, the teams came to play and we as a referee team were able to control the game with voice and whistles rather than cards. I am really proud of my crew and honored to have worked this Olympics with Veronica & Marlene.

I am hoping you are following along with the USA WNT and saw that after 4 hours they too prevailed, in this case over Canada. That being said the USA women’s referee crew will more than likely not be eligible for a semi-final. As a good AR knows, we’ll just have to wait and see for the future.

Thank you everyone for all your support. It truly means a lot to us.

Best from Beijing

– Kari

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

USA in the Quarterfinals...

...and not just the WNT, USA will also have a team officials in the Quarter Finals representing! August 15th Kari, Veronica, Marlene and Dianne (of Guyana) will be the 3rd team for Brazil v Norway.

This is bound to be an exciting match. Brazil is on a hot streak, winning their group in the first round, in fact, scoring a hat trick yesterday versus Nigeria. Norway, as you may remember, is the team that beat the USA in the opening match 2-0.

Everything is on the line, as the winning team secures a spot in the semi-finals and the losing team returns home.

You'll all be with us in spirit as we work hard to be the best team on the field.

Kari, Marlene & Veronica

Daily Training-What We Do On Our "Days Off"

Many of you must be wondering, what exactly do we do when we are not working on matches. We actually have a tight schedule with many different things incorporated into our daily program. Every non-game day includes physical training. The physical training is scheduled is modified before and after game day to optimize our game fitness. Our fitness training alternates between workouts in the hotel gym and workouts on the field. All training sessions and games are done with a heart rate monitor with the data downloaded and available for our review. The concentration on the heart rate monitors has made us more conscious of the target rate instead of just going out and training as hard as we feel like that day.


Days that involve physical training in the gym are normally followed by a session of mental preparation. In the gym, we do cardio, weight training, and balancing (for injury prevention) exercises. This has also helped with teamwork and cooperation as we are sharing a small number of machines. These workout sessions can be quite a fun experience as many of the women can be quite comical. We will remember the fun times as much as the new exercises.

The mental preparation revolves around learning techniques for relaxation and visualization. There is a high degree of pressure on referees to perform on the matches. We also know that clips are selected from all the matches to be shown to our peers during debriefings and the actions and decisions are used for development purposes. Therefore, learning mental relaxationtechniques and ways to cope with mistakes on and off the field is very useful, as we know that learning to cope with mistakes and on and off the field is a vital tool to becoming a better referee. Initially, this type of mental preparation was a bit unexpected, but at the same time, we see the value in the training as how we deal with internal struggles positively can improve our performance. We feel very fortunate to have a well-rounded training program to help us improve in mind and in body.



Our outdoor physical training varies from day-to-day. Each session begins with dynamic stretching and movements and is followed by the physical training portion, and then followed by practical sessions. In one of our assistant referee oriented sessions, the physical training portion involved sprints from mid-field to the eighteen yard box, jogging to the goal line, side stepping back to the eighteen and sprinting back to midfield. This was followed by a walk across the field and a repetition on the other side of the field. Sprints on both sides of the field constituted one lap. We did 5 laps, rested for 3-4 minutes, and did 5 more. Wow! This was tough considering how hot and humid the weather was. This session was video taped and our fitness instructor took turns running the sprints with different pairs of people to encourage us to run even faster. Being competitive people, this definitely worked to push us. The cool thing was that we were able to run this as a pair because there were times each of us needed to talk the other through the workout to get the right pacing.

The practical sessions have been a really good way to improve the team work with referees and ARs. They have also been good at replicating situations on the field to improve the concentration and decision making of the referee team. We are really grateful that they have focused so much on the decisions made by the assistant referees which give us instant feedback that we cannot get any other way. We have been very pleased with these sessions, as we feel that these training tools are helping us to meet the expectations of a FIFA tournament. We hope to implement these drills at home so that others can also get the benefits of our training.

Finally, we have debriefings in combined group session with all the men and women officials after every game. These sessions can be a bit nerve-wracking as everyone is hoping that they are not shown doing something wrong. It has been inspiring though to see some of the more senior officials volunteering situations in their games that may not have gone the way they hoped so that everyone can learn from them. Theyʼre courage and maturity have shown us some real leadership and given us a great example of behavior at a FIFA tournament.

Veronica & Marlene

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kermit Update

Well it has been a very good trip so far. I have been fortunate enough to see the Forbidden City and go to the Birds Nest before everyone else was there and get some good pictures. Daily physical training has been good and the on the field technical session have been good because they are working on situations dealing with team work as well as working on offside situations that can happen and just making sure we are concentrating on the offside and not losing focus. On Aug. 10 we performed training where we simulated running up and down the line changing directions while watching the instructor and performing the tasks. Example was running 10 yards turn and move back up field sprint down 15 as the whistle blows stop and signal offside in one of 3 area depending on what he was showing us. talk to you all soon from China.

Kermit

Nearing the end of the first round

The final assignments are out for the first round women's matches today (Aug. 10)

As you know team USA had Brazil v Germany on the first day of the tournament. We received positive feedback from our assessors and colleagues alike.

You probably figured out we didnʼt get a match on the second day (sans post); a nice few days of recovery. And now for the final day of matches in the group stages Kari has been assigned the 4th official of China v Argentina. Marlene and Veronica will be enjoying a few more days of recovery.

Keep your fingers crossed for us for the next rounds of matches.

Go Team USA


Kari Seitz

Ni Hao from China

Well it has been a very good trip so far. I have been fortunate enough to see the forbidden city and go to the birds nest before everyone else was there and get some good pictures. Daily physical training has been good and the on the field technical session have been good because they are working on situations dealing with team work as well as working on offside situations that can happen and just making sure we are concentrating on the offside and not losing focus. 8-10 we performed training where we simulated running up and down the line changing directions while watching the instructor and performing the tasks. Example was running 10 yards turn and move back up field sprint down 15 as the whistle blows stop and signal offside in one of 3 area depending on what he was showing us. talk to you all soon from China

Kermit

Sunday, August 10, 2008

8-8-08

We travel back to Beijing in hopes of getting to the Opening Cermonies. As you have read before disappointment set in for our trio. We had to stay in the hotel and watch from the TV. We did not have tickets and since Jair had to leave for Shanghai on 8-9-08, so he had to stay. We were not back when the bus left so we had to stay at the hotel.

So for first match, great game, great experience, great time.

Jair and Kermit

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Match Day

We depart the hotel at 5:30 for a 10 minute trip. The bus has a police escort that radios ahead we are coming and they stop all traffic at any intersection to ensure we arrive without any problems. People are standing on the streets as we pass by watching us. The first game is going on as we enter so we head to the locker room and begin to prepare for the match. We begin to change and put on the belts for the communication device we have to help each other, put the device in the belts and the earpiece taped on our face and neck to keep it from moving around. Game went very good ended in a tie and we had one caution and one send off.It was very HOT and HUMID!!!!!!!

Jair and Kermit

On the Road

Today we depart for the city of Qinhuangdao, by train the 7 of us are taken to the train station and we are placed in an area and surrounded by security people that do not allow people to enter, then we board and ride the train for 2 hours to the city, with uniformed security people on the train with us and then we were met by more of the event staff for the venue. They take us by police escort to the hotel and we are greeted by the hotel staff, They have people there that present each of us with flowers and a ovation as we enter the hotel people are standing on the second floor. And then we are taken to our room and we enjoy dinner in the hotel.

Jair and Kermit

Hello From Qinhaungdao


Today we had the match between Cameroon vs Korea Republic. On a hot and humid night, both sides began the match playing a high-tempo, pressing game. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, with a caution to Korea in the 57th minute and a send off in the 90th minute. The match inspector was very pleased with our performance.

After the match, Jair headed to Shanghai to be the Fourth Official for the August 9 matches between Argentina vs. Australia and Serbia vs. Ivory Coast.

The First Game

We returned to Beijing this afternoon and we are exhausted from travel and last nightʼs match. As wide eyed first timers, we wanted to share a little bit about our experience.

We are still pumped up from the match and the realization that we are now officially Olympians! As you probably know, the game ended in a scoreless draw. Last night was an incredible experience! Wu Lihe Stadium is a beautiful brand new stadium redone specifically for the Olympics. The crowd in the stadium was quite loud and there were several moments during the match where our communication system was quite useful.

With a long way to go, we were the first crew to depart Beijing. Our fellow referees gave us a send off we will never forget, cheering and clapping for us. It was an unexpected moment of solidarity that reminded us we have a football family rooting for our success.

Upon arrival at Shenyang, we went on a short tour of the city and the Government Municipal Square. Many of the city residents take part in physical activities such as dancing, skateboarding, and jump roping on the square. In fact, there were a few thousand people at the square that night. Walking around the square was a perfect activity for us as we had a chance to see a local summer pastime and walking is a good way to loosen the muscles after flying.
We began preparing in earnest for the match by watching part of the World Cup Final from 2007 and discussing styles of play and strategies for dealing with specific situations. The next morning, we continued preparations with a pre-game at the hotel with our Argentinean fourth official. Veronicaʼs fluency in Spanish really came in handy to avoid misunderstandings in instructions.

We left for the stadium in a bus right behind Brazil and Germany.

While we waited for the bus, the Brazilian menʼs team departed to train and watch the match (Ronaldinho walked right past us!). With our police escort, we drove to the stadium while the locals waved.

Entering the stadium brought home the reality of participating in the Olympics. We went through the normal pregame preparations of walking the field and warming up, with the added step of testing the electronic equipment including the communication system, flags, and electronic sub board. We walked onto the field to the cheers of tens of thousands of fans. As the game began, we forced ourselves to ignore the distractions of the crowd and focus on the task at hand. Through the course of the game, we learned when to communicate vital information via the electronic system as well as when Kari was speaking to us and not to a player. At the end of the game, we were all drenched with sweat from the high heat and humidity. Although we were tired, we also experienced the exhilaration of working in a stadium with so many people, officiating the reigning World Cup champion and the runner up, and officiating at our first FIFA tournament. We were very fortunate to work our first game with a referee as experienced as Kari to help us with all the small protocols we never even thought of and calmed our nerves a bit with her confidence.

Veronica

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Assignments Are Out

* The USA will be represented by a trio in the Germany v Brazil match on Aug 6th. Yes, the same match up as the final of the Women's World Cup 2007. On Aug. 5th Kari, Marlene & Veronica fly to Shengyang where, on the following day, we'll be officiating in a stadium designed to seat 60,000 people and rumored to be a sell-out!
* The USA will be represented by a duo for the start of the group play for the Men which begins on Aug 7, 2008. Jair and Kermit will be working the match between Cameroon and Korea along with the second assistant Ricardo of Jamacia. This match will take place in the City on the coast called Qinhuangdao, at the Olympic Sports Center seating 32,000. Today we practiced using the communication system, as well as began mental preparation for this match.


We are thrilled and can't wait to kick-off this wonderful event with great performances by the USA officiating crews.Thank you everyone for all your support - go USA


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Exciting Day

It has been a long and exciting day. Starting with training, both fitness and technical, followed by a group mental preparation session with our "team" Psychologist. The goal of this mental preparation session was to learn relaxation techniques in preparation for the upcoming matches


The sun was out and it was hot today, we’ve heard anywhere from 35-40 degrees Celsius (95-100 degrees Fahrenheit). Of course we are also told that is only at about 20 degrees humidity so there is a lot more heat where that came from. It was a bit hazy, but we could see the sun.


With the morning session out of the way, we had an opportunity to take an optional trip to the Forbidden City in the afternoon. This time we were able to go in. A huge and amazing facility. First used as a palace in 1368, it covers 720,000 square meters. (Yes, I bought a map with these fun facts).


Tonight was the night of the official FIFA Banquet (the first opportunity for us to sport our new Olympic “uniforms”) so we kept our touring to a manageable time. Many of FIFA’s most important people, as well as some representatives of the IOC were in attendance at tonight’s dinner. It was an enjoyable meal with over 200 people in attendance. Everyone looked great in their blue and white suits.


We are headed off to bed. Any questions just let us know….

Communication Systems!

This afternoon we had a meeting regarding the Communication System, which we'll be using for the Olympics. Since only about 1/2 of the referees have used it before, we got a brief overview of how it works an some tips in its use. Each referee was then given their own system to manage for the duration of the tournament. In the attached photo you can see the bag with all the equipment. The belt in which the receiver goes around the referee/ARs waist, the receiver, the microphone/headpiece and for the 4th official the "push to talk" button. I also added my referee shoe to the photo in order to give you a sense of scale (and I don't wear size 12). For the ladies this device takes up most of the torso and you can see the size of the receiver. However in my experience at the Women's World Cup in 2007 it was very handy and although not comfortable it did not interfere, but rather offered opportunities for assistance for the referee crew. I am glad we are using the system again. With this device, the key is to keep all communication short and sweet. We'll let you know our experiences with the communication system throughout the event. We'll start by testing it out as a team in training tomorrow.


Rise and Shine!

Bright and early every morning we wait in the lobby of our hotel for our transportation to arrive to take us to our training sessions. Our credentials are a requirement every time we depart our hotel for security purposes. Today our training sessions were on penalty kick, offside, and assistant referee involvement. The penalty kick session was about the decisions of the referee when attackers and defenders encroach the penalty area. The offside and AR involvement came hand and hand with our session. Our instructors let us know when AR's should and shouldn't be involved. Our daily sessions last about two hours.

We want to thank all of you for the kind words and support through our Olympic experience.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hello again, we're back!

Summer found us here in Korea, the mornings start off nice and cool but by match time, the heat and humidity poke their way through onto the pitch. Compared to the 115 degree heat and 400% humidity back home in NC, it ain’t so bad, so no worries.

The matches are going well so far, I was able to practice my Italian and hack my way through some Portugese/Spanish/sign language with the Brazilians, who took their match 2-1.

Yesterday, I did my first middle for the Korea v. Canada game, and all went well, only one caution and all goals coming off the run of play, with Canada taking first in their group with a 3-1 win. My six words of Korean came in handy but with the unintended side effect is that the players thought I was miraculously gifted with something close to fluency. But, no, sorry, I mostly speak food.

Today, I’ll be doing the middle for the Italy v. Australia game, and Wheels will be on the line bench-side. She’s picked up some survival Italian from Cristina and me. No doubt, Cristina’s version is more PG-13. This game should be interesting with the team's very different styles; the Aussies rarely pass up a good opportunity for a hip check and the Italians want a full extended family meet and greet before having their personal space invaded. Hopefully, I’ll help them find something towards the middle that everyone is equally dissatistfied with, hehe. The U.S. will play their heated rival Brazil today. Our friend Jenny will be in charge of that one with a solid crew by her side; it’s gonna be a good one.
Wheels is extending her culinary horizons and ate some sushi yesterday! Go Wheels!! Today I’m going to sneak some grilled eel on her plate and try to convince her that the raw squid are just ‘special’ noodles. I’ll need to keep my head low in case she tries to throw it back at me across the table. Wish me luck.

Our days are full with morning meetings and debriefs, matches, keeping our bellies full, and not crashing head-first into the knees of a slew of men’s volleyball teams that overran the hotel a couple of days ago. I think half of them sleep with their feet hanging out open windows. There is no way they fit into these Cabbage-Patch doll rooms here. Wheels and I have to mind our step when they’re around so we don’t get smushed like a couple of squeak-toys. Yikes.

More later after today’s matches.

Hello again! The Italy v. Australia game saw the Aussies take the match, 3-0. We had two cautions for the Aussies for tactical and reckless fouls. Outside of that, everyone played and we had a good flowing match. Today, we have the semi-final for the group, with Brazil playing against Australia. Two very different styles again. We’ll see what the line-ups bring to our match-ups. Wheels will be running the line, properly fortified with grilled eel and 10-alarm kimchee soup, and I’ll be in the middle with Strawberry on the other line and Sugar minding the benches. Should be a good one!

Last night, we went to another traditional Korean restaurant where we were theoretically supposed to sit cross-legged at low tables – I really need to hit a yoga class every day for about 5 years before trying that again, yowch! The main event of this meal was Korean bulogi, delicately sliced raw beef cooked in a central pot of broth, noodles, and vegetables. Of course there were about 30 different side dishes, from the omnipresent fire-engine kim-chee to steamed dumplings the size of baseballs, to dried fish (can you say salt?), spicy veggies, a whole bowl of fresh garlic cloves (no kisses, please!), and 14 varieties of sliced and diced cabbage. We rolled out of the restaurant, commandeered the sauna to cook ourselves in the hot Jacuzzi, then the warm one, then the ice-cold one so we didn’t fall asleep at the bottom. With full bellies and rejuvenated legs, another day came to a close. It’s now morning again, and time to get the ref. bag ready, put on our game faces, and head to the stadium. We’ll do our best to get it right and check back a bit later.

See ya!
Fini & Wheels

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On the Road Again...

I am staying in the Salt Lake airport Hilton for the next couple of days and am here as a 4th official for the MLS game between the visiting San Jose Earthquakes and hosting Real Salt Lake. It will be Jasen Anno’s first game back after a three year sabbatical.

I flew in late last night after a three-hour delay and arrived around 11:45 p.m. It was a good thing I had dinner before I got on the plane because I was ready for bed. It was just my luck, when I was checking in the person behind the front desk couldn’t find my reservation. I just ended up called my roommate; I thought I was going to wake him up but fortunately, he was still up and around.

Today is game day. I got up early (8 a.m.) and headed to the concierge lounge for breakfast. As I was having coffee, a bagel, and fruit, Jasen called to say he had just landed. I invited him for breakfast so we could talk about tonight's game. The hotel didn’t have a room ready for Jason so we spent the morning in the lounge catching up with one another. While chatting, I came up with a great idea; I figured I would interview him for the blog so you can experience what he has done to get ready for the game tonight.

So meet Jasen Anno. Jasen is from San Antonio, Texas where he is employed as a high school teacher. He has been involved with playing and refereeing soccer for the past 15 years. Jason was first introduced to the beautiful game as a player. He started as a youth player in the San Antonio area before moving on to amateur and college levels. Jasen started refereeing while still a student. So let’s spend a few minutes with Jasen and have a Q&A.

RS: So, what have you done to prepare for not only this game but the entire MLS season?
JA: First and foremost is the physical preparation for me, which then carries over to my mental preparation and makes me stronger and more confident for the big games.

RS: After taking some time off from refereeing, has your outlook changed on the game?
JA: Soccer is an extremely important part of my life and my family’s life, but what I see as the difference in my attitude concerning the controllable versus the uncontrollable factors. I can control my preparation, how I referee the game, and how I act off the field of play. What can not be controlled are game assignments, for example you could have had the best season of your career and still not get the final because of factors out of your control.

RS: What do you see in the future for your refereeing career?
JA: Obviously, the first step is being a consistent referee in MLS. There is always the hope and want of the next level but as I mentioned before, I will control what I can control and that is my performances.

RS: If you could tell the players one thing before the game, what would you tell them?
JA: Remember, we are on the same team!

RS: What are you thoughts on being the only non-FIFA representative tonight?
JA: For this game, it gives me even more confidence to be able to have a great performance knowing the experience is with me. However, I am the captain of the ship and that is the attitude and demeanor I will take with this great crew. I will ask them, however, if I start steering the ship wrong to put me back on course.

Thanks Jasen for spending a few minutes to blog. All the best for the game tonight and the rest of the season.

Ricardo Salazar periodically provides a look into life as a U.S. Soccer Full-Time Referee.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cedar Rapids Flood Disaster

As most of you know, Cedar Rapids and many surrounding communities have experienced a flood disaster like we’ve never seen before. In Cedar Rapids, more than 24,000 people have been displaced and thousands of homes and businesses have been severely damaged or destroyed. Numerous roads, highways and bridges closed as a result of very high water. Our public water supply was also compromised, requiring significant conservation by everyone.

Prior to the water coming up there were many ways to get exercise around here. I would do my fitness multiple times a day. Not just running (finding an area to run was an issue at times), Sand bagging multiple days to try to help prevent damage, and helping lift things to higher locations.

When the water came, we were one of the lucky ones and our house was not impacted. We live on a big hill and the water came up to our drive, but we were able to get out. So with our house being one of the only houses in the area not effect we became flood central for the families in our area.

Trying to get to the airport to go to my match this weekend in KC was an experience which should have been a 15min drive was well over an hour because of the road and bridge closers.

We’re happy to report that the water is now receding, and the community is ready to begin recovery. We will continue to assist by volunteering our efforts to help with community clean-up and rebuilding.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and concerns. We appreciate them all so much.

TV

Here is a picture of our road. There should be no water in this photo. Our drive is right at the edge of the water by the trucks. The water cuts us off from our main way in and out of our place.


Terry Vaughn periodically provides a look into his life as a U.S. Soccer Full-Time Referee.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Greetings from Korea!

We made it! Nothing like a 15-hour flight to make one appreciate freedom of movement. Apparently, Korean Air is infatuated with the early movies of Dustin Hoffman, the time warp to “The Graduate” and “Kramer vs Kramer” did wonders to help us adjust to the 13-hour time difference. Our lovely colleague Mi Suk Park greeted Sharon Wheeler (aka ‘Wheels’) and I at the Seoul airport with a smile, coffee, and a big box of Dunkin’ Donuts, proof positive that sugar and caffeine are the world’s elixirs of recovery.

I just love a country that makes me feel tall at 5-foot nothin’. Unlike my recent trip to Holland where all the mirrors were 3 feet above my head and reaching a light switch required vast knowledge of plyometrics, everything is sized as a junior miss here. My kind of place.

We’ve picked up some Korean words – mostly food of course – and I could turn this entry into an edition of the Food Network with all the delicacies of this land. We are basically sustained with protein and hot spices. Who needs Starbucks when breakfast greets you with 5-alarm kimchee? Mercy. That’ll wake your frontal lobe. I’ve been able to I.D. most of what we’re eating, most of it swam somewhere in it’s original state, and I translate about half of it to Wheels so she doesn’t starve. No need to dwell on such matters, a girl’s gotta eat and keep up her strength, no? “Eat it, it’s good” has been the mantra of choice, Wheels is nothin’ if not a good sport about it.

We truly have an international gathering of officials – our good friend Bibi from Germany is here, along with Jenny from Sweden, Jacqui from New Zealand, Sasha from England, my countrywoman Cristina from Italy, plus Suk-Hee (Sugar), Sung-Mi, Kyoung-Min (Blueberry), Sol-Gi, and Mi-Suk (Strawberry) from Korea (note food theme in the nicknames). Our fearless leader is Kati Elovirta from Finland, who bravely took charge of our motley bunch. We had our technical meeting with all the teams a couple of days ago, where we had our hair pulled out one strand at a time going through the colors of each team and goalkeeper for each match for the next 10 days. They fed us really well afterwards to remove the glaze from our eyes, so all was forgiven. A bit of training included a futbol scrimmage later that afternoon and was quite welcome, getting the plane out of our legs and reassuring us that our abandoned pursuit of a national team spot was a very wise decision.

Last night was the opening match at Suwon World Cup Stadium, about 5 minutes from our hotel, yet a 35 minute drive as we toured several parking lots, crawled our way through the 30,000 strong crowd at the front gates IN A BUS while miraculously not flattening anyone under the wheels (though a random soccer ball rolling by didn’t fare quite as well; we tossed the kid a referee key chain as an attempt at reparations, but the 7 year old was pointedly unimpressed – oops). Eventually, we found our way into the tunnel and the luxurious locker rooms. After opening ceremonies we were ready for Korea v New Zealand. Jenny from Sweden was the referee and started us off on a strong note, along with Cristina and Wheels on the lines, and me minding the benches. Fantastic crowd, deafening from the opening FIFA anthem to the final whistle, New Zealand up 1-0 till the 70th minute, then bam, bam, two goals from the Koreans in a two-minute span. The place went wild, smoke flares, streamers, drums, gongs, chants & songs, yeesh what a racket! Love it. 2-1 for Korea at the final whistle. Canada played Argentina in the second match, took it 5-0 with Sinclair finding the net a few times.

Then we went to eat at a local Korean restaurant. Wow. I mean wow. We ate for almost two hours and 25 courses, no lie. Soups, 4 million types of veggies, a cornucopia of seafood, shellfish, beef, pork, and kimchee that took the paint off a couple of our stomachs, pickled varieties of yummy things, just an absolute feast. I imagine the dishwashers haven’t left yet. I’m still full 10 hours later.

This afternoon the US will play Australia, our get well soon wishes are extended to Cat Whitehill, who tore her ACL during training here, and of course also to Leslie Osborne, who endured the same injury almost 3 weeks ago. We hope their rehab is both quick and successful. I will be the 4th for Sasha on the following match, Brazil v Italy, so I’m warming up my hands for the upcoming conversations.

Off to train a bit and work off some of last night’s culinary adventures. We’ll do our best to get it right in the matches and send more tales over the next couple of days.

Kam-samida,
fini-san

Sandra Serifini reports about her experiences in South Korea as she officiates during the 2008 Peace Queen Cup.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Referee Week in review

With the introduction of the referee week in review, the staff at US Soccer watch games, note certain incidents and review game tape. We then make clips of the incidents and write a review of them. It is then posted on ussoccer.com for everyone to learn from. To take this further, myself, Alfred Kleinaitis and Brian Hall speak to the same material on a podcast, which can also be found on ussoccer.com.
There is excellent information for every referee to incorporate into their own games.

Paul Tamberino
Director of Referee Development
US Soccer

Monday, May 12, 2008

U.S. vs. Canada Recap

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Looks like Saint Medard (patron saint of good weather) smiled upon us once again on Saturday night. A cool, dry 60 degrees greeted us at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital, the pitch was kind to the knees, and the locker room was open every time we needed to get in! The crowd was great, the weather perfect, Mike Squire was gifted a well-earned “Incredible Hulk” action figure for his Birmingham strong-like-bull ingenuity, and a great rivalry was on hand. Our game faces were on.

U.S. vs. Canada is always an interesting match-up, and though called a “friendly” (whose bright idea that was I’ll never know), it’s essentially a hockey-loving country (Go Flyers!) against a pointy-football-loving country. The common thread is that the big-time sport in each nation involves hitting each other really hard, repeatedly, and with enthusiastic vigor. Except in our game, proper football, there’s no equipment other than the whimsically-named “shinguards”, which these days are about the size of my debit card…on my key chain. I’ve always thought it was a good idea to have shinguards at least as long as the bottom of my opponent’s shoe, where hard pieces of plastic or metal await to encounter my tibia, but this sort of precaution apparently went out of vogue sometime around the Nixon presidency.

As it was, everyone kept the big picture in mind with that little tournament in China coming up, so while they played hard, especially in the air (check out the picture of McLeod and Kai challenging for a ball – and yes, McLeod got the ball first), they kept their minds on the business and we were able to facilitate an open, free-flowing match. Everybody just played. Fabulous.

One of the benefits of traveling as an official is that you are able to experience the unique characteristics of various cities – and figure out the cheapest way of getting there. Ergo, I fly a certain discount airline where the flight attendants sing songs into Baltimore and convince my AR & ride (thanks Deb!) to schlep me to a little piece of heaven on earth. A place where the décor hasn’t changed in 40 years, the parking lot is a crammed mess of cars, and the staff have little interest in chit-chat. A place where I would gladly crawl on my knees in the snow for a take-out order. If you know Baltimore, you know I’m talking about G&M’s and I’m talkin’ crabcakes.

They’ve ruined me for crabcakes anywhere else, because all others are mere mushballs of pulverized crustacean shells, sawdust, and red pepper flakes. They ship ‘em, they pack ‘em, and there’s always a line at the carry-out counter. And the restaurant. And the bar lounge (I hear). Let’s just say that the box I picked up from them was about as big as my ref bag and about twice as heavy. At the airport I checked my ref bag anyway. No way was I letting these babies outta my sight. I’m now home, and it’s time for supper.

Have a great week, see you next time.

Best,
fini

Friday, May 9, 2008

Allowance for Time Lost

In a recently played MLS game, the referee did not follow the standardized procedures by which additional time is allowed in a period of play. This problem also occurred in recent UEFA matches. The UEFA Referee Committee determined that the referees were ending the game before the full added time was played. They have issued a directive to their referees reminding them to allow the full time allotted for each period of play.
USSF has issued a position paper “Allowance for Time Lost”, April 22, 208, which can be found at http://www.ussoccer.com/laws/papers.jsp.html

Allowance is made in any period of play (including extra time) for time lost through substitutions, assessment of injuries, removal of players from the field of play for treatment, time wasting and any other cause. Among examples of "other cause" would be the need for the officiating team to confer regarding the identity of players committing misconduct; confrontations with officials; the removal of streamers, debris or other objects thrown on to the field which interrupts the game; pitch incursions by spectator(s); and so forth.

This minimum time does not indicate the exact amount of time left in the match nor does it preclude more time being added to the allowance for any subsequent injuries or additional delays (including time wasting). The specific amount of the allowance is at the discretion of the referee. During the two minutes before the expiration of each period of play the Referee must inform the Fourth Official, either visually or verbally, of the amount of time allowed. That information is conveyed to both teams.

It is important to note that once the time has been announced, either by the fourth official or on the electronic sign board, the time cannot be reduced.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Curse of the Iron Bowl

Well, that was a wild one! Back from Birmingham and wanted to give a post-match hello. Whoever did that sun dance, a thousand thank you’s! The weather couldn’t have been more perfect at kickoff, which was great because we (the referee crew) had a bit of an adventure making it onto the pitch.

Legion Field is known as “The Iron Bowl”, a nod to Birmingham’s past of iron and steel manufacturing. What is less known is that there seems to be a reverse magnetic field that surrounds the officials’ locker room. Legend has it that a coach lost a major game at the stadium many years ago and put a curse on this locker room, pledging to inflict petty tortures on all officials who approached it. We weren’t able to find the correct room on our arrival (it’s a big labyrinth down there), so we just deposited our bags in a room we’ve used in the past and inspected the field. Everything looked good and we ran into U.S. Soccer’s Amy Hopfinger – she’s the best, always taking care of us lost souls and directing us to the right place. We did the tour of the stadium’s iron guts and eventually found our way through a secret passage to the locker room. At least our warm-up was halfway done.

Right. On to the business. Confirm team colors. I let the Aussie ‘keeper go in light blue because black was their only other option and that was almost identical to the U.S. navy blue. U.S. keepers also had blue jerseys, but a brighter kind, so while that was a whole lot of blue running about out there, at least we could tell everyone apart. Laughs all around as my newly tailored red jersey came out. I believe it could have been worn as a tankini by the rest of the crew, it was essentially two big pockets and a couple of sleeves. Worked for me though!

I led us in the pre-game conference, going over what’s in the hearts and minds of the players today, what to expect tactically from each team, who our match-ups would be and making sure everyone is on the same page communication-wise if a variety of unusual situations should arise. OK, on to the warm-up. We do our thing, and come back with about 12 minutes before having to line up in the tunnel. All we have to do is put on our jerseys, grab the game ball, connect on the beeper flag receiver and do a final ref crew ya-ya handshake. This was a TV game, so everything is timed down to the minute. Only problem was that the locker room was…er…actually locked and we couldn’t get in. Hmm. That’s not good. U.S. Soccer staff guru Mike Squire always has lots of keys, so we found him straight away. Hmm, none of his keys work. That’s not good either. He gets on his radio and calls the venue staff. Tick-tock. Like the Incredible Hulk, Mike goes in the next room, drags out a gargantuan file cabinet, and lays it down. He puts a chair on top, and one of the ARs climbs on top to try and go through the ceiling tile to get over the door and onto the other side. Personally, I’m wondering if our police escort can just shoot the lock open with his gun – it works on TV, right? We’re now about two minutes from having to be in the tunnel and the venue staff comes strolling down the hallway – in no rush mind you – looking at us and shaking his head like we’re all nuts. Flip, flip, flip through the keys. Finds it. Opens the door. We run him over and get all our stuff on and run to the tunnel where the FIFA anthem starts playing and we just make it to the front of the line to walk the teams out. Jeesh. OK, everybody act normal and put your smiley faces on!! Breathe!!

Nine goals and 94 minutes later, we come back to the locker room for the final time. It’s open (gee, thanks), do all the paperwork, get cleaned up, and head out for a well-earned refreshing beverage. Until next time, the curse of the Legion Field official’s locker room lives on and a coach somewhere has a smile of sweet revenge. Have a great week, see you next time.

Best,
fini

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Welcome to Birmingham - Part I

Ok, I’m up. It’s 4:30 a.m., which to most reasonable people, outside of clinicians and military folks, is still the middle of the night. My flight to Birmingham, Ala., for the rematch between the U.S. Women’s National Team and Australia leaves RDU at 7:30 a.m. This is the time of year when I know what the TSA guy on morning shift in Terminal A takes in his coffee, and the Starbucks people give me a 10 percent discount because our “dress blues” USSF threads makes me look like a flight attendant. So working backwards, I figure this ungodly hour would allow me to get through my pre-flight, pre-game routine without forgetting something vital like my cleats, jerseys, or ref kit.

Especially, my jerseys. Please understand that I am extremely grateful for the support and generosity of Official Sports International, without whom I’d still be wearing a 1984 white-cuffed black polyester number that isn’t fit to be near open flame. This jersey issue is my special deal. I am what some people may refer to as “compact”, “vertically challenged”, or for those who overestimate my delicacy, “petite”. This means that every new jersey takes a trip to Mrs. Lee of Lee’s Tailors, for whom I seem to have the pleasure of financing her six-year-old’s college education fund considering that every stitch of clothing I buy goes through her scissor-weaponed hands before landing in my closet. We’re looking to wear the spiffy new red jersey tonight, where the sleeves of my “short sleeve” jerseys now end somewhere above my forearm, the kimono sleeves are snipped back to somewhere around the middle of my torso, and the three feet of extra material along the bottom isn’t bloused into oblivion. The pockets are still a wee enormous in proportion to the rest of the shirt, they sort of tuck into my shorts, but hey, I’ve lived with bigger inconveniences in life.

Should be a great match, please do whatever dance allows us to proceed in a two-hour window of calm between thunderstorms, and send some mojo to the team in red (that’s the ref team in case our jersey color changes). We’ll do our best to get it right and catch up with you later tonight post-match.

Best,
fini

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Greetings From The Pan Pacific

Hi everyone. I was at the Pan Pacific Tournament in Hawaii from February
19-24 and wanted to let you in on how the trip went. I arrived on February 19 at night. The following day, I had the opening game between Galaxy from U.S and Osaka from Japan. This was the first game of the tournament, so I went to the game with the mentality to set the tone for the rest of the tournament. The game was a very exciting game from beginning till the end.

The first and only yellow card came with just five minutes into the game. It was a game with a few fouls, only fourteen (14) in the whole game. People also enjoyed watching David Beckham of the L.A Galaxy, who played all 90 minutes of the game. The final score was 1-0 in favor of Osaka from Japan.

The following two days we didn't have games, so I used those days for training. On Thursday night I attended a clinic for the local referees of Hawaii, in which I shared my experience as a full-time referee. Then on Saturday I was in the final as fourth official in the game between Osaka from Japan and Houston Dynamo from U.S. The referee was Kevin Sttot and the final score was 6-1 making Osaka from Japan champions of the Pan Pacific Tournament.

I headed back home on Sunday.

Talk to you next time.

Baldomero Toledo

Thursday, February 21, 2008

DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY WINTER SHOWCASE

This last weekend, three of the full time referees, Jair Marrufo, Ricardo Salazar and me joined U.S. Soccer Referee staff Alfred Kleinaitis, Paul Tamberino, Dick Triche, and Craig Lowry at the Development Academy Winter Showcase in Dallas, Texas.

This showcase is not just for players, coaches and teams, but it is also a showcase for referees. It is a great environment to work with and develop upcoming referees. Here’s a quick run through of the events we participated in:

We arrived on Saturday at the headquarters, checked in, unpacked and got settled in. We then attended a meeting to go over the rules of competition, points of emphasis, pointers to what might help the referees in the days to come and we also received our assignments. Marrufo, Salazar and I had the opportunity to referee one game a day and then mentored the rest of the day. This works well as you had the opportunity to work with a crew, and they get to watch how you prepare before a match, how you communicate and how you work with the players and referee crew during the game. They can also ask questions along with the other referees that watched the game.

The rest of our time was spent going from field to field to watch portions of matches and find people which are ready to be looked at for the next challenge. We provide feedback and helpful hints to improve. At night we compared notes from the day events and made a game plan for the next day.

Overall, it was a great event and one that will help improve the quality of referees in the U.S. We’re looking forward to the next Showcase in May!

Take care.

Terry Vaughn

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

THE SUPER CLASSIC OF CONCACAF

How does a referee approach the biggest rivalry in CONCACAF, USA vs. Mexico? This is the biggest game on our continent anytime these two teams clash. They say this is an international friendly but we as referees know there is no such this as a “friendly” in soccer. The referee for this game Carlos Batres from Guatemala and he will have his hands full. He will have to use his many years of experience so this game will be enjoyed by all. This is not a new test for the referee as he last referees this match in the 2007 Gold Cup final.

We all know what this game means to both countries as preparation continues for World Cup qualifying. Mexico is bringing in a winless streak into the game when playing against the U.S. The U.S. MNT is 8-0-1 against Mexico in the last 9 meetings on U.S. soil. Yes, you read that correctly and tonight the game is in Houston, Texas. Does that mean it will be a sure win for the U.S.? NO! This is why the games are played. It will be a hard fought match by both nations.

From a referees stand point these are all things that we think about as we prepare for the task ahead. We have to realize that the atmosphere will be electrifying. The referee has to know that the speed of the game will be fast with good skill being displayed. Both managers have called in experienced players from Europe that are in mid-season form. When going into such a hostile event you must prepare yourself not only physically but also mentally. This is vital for the referee team to be successful.

Not any referee can referee this match tonight. But, Mr. Batres has a great deal of experience when is comes to this CONCACAF classic. The teams know him well and know that his will be ready for the challenge. He is a seasoned veteran not only in CONCACAF but with FIFA.

Good luck to him! And check back for my thoughts on the game in the next couple days.

Ricardo Salazar – U.S. Full-Time Referee

Monday, February 4, 2008

What happens at National Camp

My name Terry Vaughn and I am one of the full timers and I wanted to let you know what goes on at the National Camp. The full time Referees (Jiar Marrufo Ricardo Salazar, Baldomero Toledo and Terry Vaughn) spent Jan 24-27 in Carson California at what is called National Camp one as presenters . Here is a quick look at our agenda. When we arrived on Thursday, we checked in to the hotel and registered for camp. US Soccer hosted a nice a nice reception after the reception we had the opportunity to listen to CEO/ Secretary General Dan Flynn describe where the programs focus for the future will be. We also listened to Coach John Ellinger, Technical Director, US Youth Soccer, about team formations and other tactical adjustments teams make. On Friday, we helped with the fitness testing in the morning. The camp attendees also took a written test on Friday. The rest of the day was used for doing game analysis lead by Sandy Hunt. In the evening we heard from league representatives about their respective leagues (USL Lee Cohen - MISL Herb Silva – US Soccer Show Case Academy Asher Mendelsohn) and we also had the opportunity to hear from FBI Agent Jim Finnegan about gambling issues. Paul Tamberino, Director of Pro Referee Development provided information about assignments and the structure to help identify and develop new referees. This structure is to help new referee reach the top levels of the USL and MLS. On Saturday, we spent most of the day on case studies, this was lead by Esse Baharmast, Director of International Referee Development, Alfred Kleinaitis, Manager of Referee Development and Education, and Paul Tamberino. During this excersies, all participants watched 30 videos and then they were broke into small groups of ten or so. Each group was responsible for reviewing two of the clips to determine if what happened in the clip was right or wrong, and what could have been done differently to better the situation. The large group then met back together to discuss and each of the small group leaders would go up front and present what they decided. The larger group would indicate what they thought. The Staff would tell them if they were right, steer them the right way or ask more detailed question. The rest of session included presentation on Positioning by Sandy Hunt, AR involvement by Craig Lowry, Nate Clement, and Steve Davidson, Fitness by Ricardo Salazar, Game Preparation by Baldomero Toledo, Pre Game by Jiar Marrufo, and Bench Control by Terry Vaughn. On Sunday, we heard from Brooks McCormick, Chairman of the Referee Program, Julie Ilacqua, Managing Director of Referee Programs, Paul Tamberino, and Esse Baharmast about the programs future. Then it was time to honor the new National referees which pasted the testing. All new National Referees were called up front one by one and given their new National referee badge, a National Referee Pin for their blazer and a certificate showing they have completed the requirements to be National referees. They all stood up on the stage while the others in the room gave them a standing ovation to recognize their efforts. Pictures are taken, hugs and high fives given and everyone headed to the airport to go home and celebrate with their family and friends.

Terry Vaughn

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

GETTING READY FOR NATIONAL CAMP

Hello my fellow referees. As you may or may not know, it is time for U.S. Soccer's National Referee Camp. This is the time when the top referee's in our country are called in to re-certify for the upcoming season. (More on the camp later.) I wanted to spend a few moments to let you know how I (and the other referees in Illinois) prepare for the camp.The two main things we have to prepare for is the fitness test and the written test. As camp gets closer we focus more on the fitness test. Apart from my individual training, everyone that is going to camp gathers on Saturday morning to practice the fitness test and run together. Today when I left home to meet the guys it was -7 outside. So, needless to say we trained indoors on this Saturday. We don't always train indoors. We train outside in the freezing cold as long as the track is dry and temps are not to close to ZERO.It is great to get together to train and encourage each other to make sure we're all are ready for camp. The last thing anyone wants to do is not pass the fitness test.More to come on National camp.

-Ricardo Salazar

Monday, January 21, 2008

Greetings from China – Part IV – The Final Installment

Morning greetings from China! Last we visited we were sleeping off an enormous meal courtesy of the CFA and headed to the gym the next morning to work it off. Satisfied that the calorie count was a little more balanced between import and export, the Chinese officials picked us up for another round of shopping. After a few close calls for some bicycle-riders – I swear we just about picked off 4 or 5 of them – we were deposited on Mao St., where the irony drips once again as it’s the most capitalist street I’ve ever seen. Times Square in New York looks almost quaint in comparison, as we entered a 4-block, 6-story monstrosity of shops. I honed in almost immediately to the Starbucks, where out of habit I ordered a double-tall skinny latte and without missing a beat they repeated it back to me and served it up hot enough to exfoliate my entire mouth. Right on. In the hour it took to cool down, we found ourselves (girls that we are) in a Bath-n-Body type shop, where the common goals of women the world over were apparent: “H12O6 raises energy to raise face water” and the promising “Resists senile energy tight skin water”. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. I got a whole lot of senile energy that needs resisting, so sign me up.

Since this appeared to be Western Shopping Day, we were naturally taken to KFC for lunch. Being a Saturday we expected it to be busy, especially with Chinese New Year celebrations in the air, but this place was PACKED. We watched the Chinese officials literally muscle some multi-generational family out of a set of tables, and were instantly served up 2 buckets of chicken, complete with a couple liters of Pepsi, corn on the cob, and 6 buns (cuz clearly there weren’t enough carbs in our meal yet). The Western girls each had a bit but mostly stared in awe as these five rail-thin 80-pound Chinese women slammed back a sandwich each plus their bucket of chicken plus half of our bucket. Holy Dinah.

After lunch we refreshed ourselves with a bit of “In-Depth water raises moistens blast” spritzer, and hit Beijing Road again to watch Kirsi’s bargaining talents in action. That woman can shop and I have video to prove it. About 4 hours later we regrouped with our interpreters and were taken to a hot pot restaurant. Another 8 course feast. This city and their people sure know how to eat. A giant pot with a rice-based broth sits boiling in the middle of the table over an enormous flame and platter after platter of fresh meat, fish, and veggies gets dropped in, spooned out, and distributed. A concoction of soy sauce, fresh ginger, scallions, and enough hot mustard oil to induce an aneurysm is used for dipping. Kirsi turned purple, Carol-Anne slammed the table a couple of times, and I think I actually lost consciousness for a minute. Jeez it was good. Another comatose ride home and off to bed.

Yesterday we finished the last games and as you likely know by now, the US captured the title with a 1-0 win over China. It was a fun match to watch, and the noise from the stick-banging crowd was incredible. Even with only about 2000 seats taken out of the 80,000 capacity stadium, it was electrically loud. That place must really rock when it’s full. The US also swept most of the award categories, a nod to the way their new possession game translated into goals for the team. The previous match saw Canada match up against Finland, where I was the 4th official for the Chinese referee Gu Ying and our two Chinese assistants Zhang Lingling and Cui Yongmei. The Finns scored late in the first half against the run of play, frustrating the Canadians who were fiercely determined to register a goal in the tournament. After their solid draw against a talented Chinese team, Canada came out on a mission in the second half and peppered the Finnish goal with shot after shot. For all the spaghetti, er, lo mein, they threw against the wall, something finally stuck when Jodi-Ann Robinson ripped a shot from 25 yards out in the 4th minute of stoppage time, shortly before the final whistle. The Canadians went mad and dog-piled the goalscorer who put them into third place for the tournament.

Lots of hugs, email swaps, and gift exchanges later, we said goodbye to our wonderful new Chinese friends and colleagues. I sincerely hope we will have a chance to work together again, and I wish them the very best in their careers. Today is a free day, I plan on going out to take some day-in-the-life pics, maybe find some good strong Chinese tea, and sheepishly find a bigger suitcase to pack all my goodies in. I wonder if the nice massage lady will fit in one? Hmm.

A big thank you to US Soccer for providing me with this incredible opportunity, it was an honor to represent the US and our officials at this wonderful tournament. Much appreciation also goes to the Chinese Football Association, our translators, and drivers, who graciously and generously hosted us throughout the week. Congratulations to the US team on a well-played tournament and well-earned title, they are truly a remarkable group of young women.

See you on the pitch, and may the ball always bounce your way.

From China, all the best!

fini :)