Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ricardo Salazar Checks In

This month there's a big game happening. You may have heard about it? You also may have heard about the cold weather, which has played a memorable part in the USA-Mexico rivalry in the past. With these things in mind, this month we're asking U.S. Soccer's full-time referees about officiating games in the cold and taking charge of games between heated rivalries. In part one we talked to Baldomero Toledo and in part two we spoke to Terry Vaughn. For part three, Ricardo Salazar checks in with the Official Take Blog:

It seems that the weather is the current talk for the US/Mexico showdown on Feb. 11 in Columbus. What is interesting is that it turns out the weather may not be that bad and, even so, our sport is meant to be played during colder months. If you look anywhere else in the world leagues are going strong. In England, they have been hit with snow and frigid weather. The spin is our opponents are not accustomed to playing in colder weather. From a referee’s view point, he will not be used to colder weather coming from Central America. I am going to spend some time on what he should do to get himself ready to deal with not only the match but the elements.

First, the obvious: his fitness level has to be high because this game is going to be fast paced. It is going to be much faster for a couple reasons and the colder weather is one factor. Unlike warm/hot weather months the players endurance levels will not be affected as it would be during hot weather. The referee and his crew will have to be mentally ready for the
cold weather. When they arrive into Columbus they will need to spend sometime outdoors in the weather. On game day, the will need to get outside and go for a walk, and they shouldn't stay inside all day.

The weather is something every FIFA referee has to deal with during out career. When we go to Central American/Mexico or the Caribbean we have to deal with hot and humid weather weather. How do we deal with this? I will put on extra clothes while training. A wind suit or sweatshirt is good for getting the core temp elevated. Also, I will go into a steam room at the gym after working out and do my stretching in there.

Hydration is another important factor in both hot and cold weather. In the colder months I think we forget how important it is to stay hydrated. Not only does the referee crew have to hydrate for the game, they have to deal with the effects of traveling. When flying all day, the body hydration level is affected. This must be looked after do the effects on the body are kept to a minimal.

The bottom line is yes it is different referee in cold weather then during the warmer months. The key is how you prepare for each game had to be different. The referee crew must prepare mentally as well as physically for every game to be successful. I like to have a second change of uniform so at halftime I can change into fresh dry gear. It is important to be co
mfortable after halftime. If you are wet from sweating during the first half the referee will not be comfortable to start the second half. This could effect his concentration level which isn’t a good thing.

Now lets get on with the game! We all know that USA/Mexico is the biggest rivalry in CONCACAF. It's funny because anytime anyone [else in CONCACAF] plays either of these two teams it is the biggest game for them, so this is the game everyone looks forward to see. For the referee it is a big honor to be appointed to this game. The referee for this day is not a rookie to this match up. He has seen and done this big game many times.; the players will know him and he will know the players. Not only is it a big game for the players and the respected countries but also for the referee and he has to perform at a high level and prove that he belongs at the World Cup. Currently there are five men on that list from CONCACAF and I can guarantee you that if we get three selected we will be lucky. So the spotlight will be on him also to perform at a high level. One mistake and he can loose his spot.

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