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.


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.