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