Monday, December 6, 2010

Recertification Opportunity

Have you noticed that it's December already?  If you still have a badge that says 2010 you need to recertify if you want to do games next year.  The next opportunity is Saturday December 11 from 12-5pm at CNM Brasher Hall.  See the NMSRA website for more details or click here.

Also, if you need to complete your fitness test you can do so on Sunday December 12 at 8:30am.  Meet at the Highland High School track and be ready to run at 8:30am sharp.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NBA Referees

I know, it's the wrong sport, but we can learn a lot from other referees (even if they get to stay warm while we freeze out in the cold).

ESPN recently took a look at some changes in the NBA referee program.  I found it interesting to hear how they face similar challenges to us; how to call the game, balancing "flow" against calling fouls and the process of assessment.  You can watch the video below and read the article by clicking here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

WIR #18

US Soccer has put out the Week in Review for Week 18, which you can read here. There was a section on there that reminded me of a discussion had at the Annual Clinic this past weekend.

The article centers around three classifications of fouls: Careless, Reckless and Excessive Force.  We should all be familiar with what these teams mean and the criteria used to decide if a foul is careless, reckless or used excessive force.  But we need to do more than just understand the criteria.

You start by understanding these terms, watching video or live games to get a "feel" for what separates the categories and then practice on the pitch.  But when you're in the game, three more things come into play: feel for the game, proper positioning and seeking assistance.

Feel for the game is tough to learn right away.  It comes from experience, both as a referee and at that level of game.  Proper positioning is also not something you can do overnight.  You have to work on fitness, have experience to read the game/players and, quite frankly, sometimes you just have to be lucky.  The final piece of the puzzle is quick to implement, though: Seeking assistance.

The referee crew has to work together on classifying a foul.  Soccer is a game of angles, so what you see might be completely different from what your AR saw.  Sometimes you have to get a card out quickly for game control, yes, but you still need to make eye contact with your AR beforehand.  Giving a yellow card (or no card) when it is clearly a send-off could be considered missing a game critical incident.

I know that I've had to work on making eye contact before pulling the card out quickly.  Also, as an AR we need to work on ensuring our feedback gets to the referee.  Even if they decide to ignore us, we must make sure they understand that we are asking for misconduct.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Running Group 8/04/2010

NMSRA Running Group will meet this Wednesday August 4 at ADO Field #1.  Please meet there by 6:00pm.

Don't forget the fitness test is this Sunday!

View Larger Map

Monday, August 2, 2010

Anchor Goals

Have you ever checked a goal to find that is not anchored properly? We always check the goal nets for holes, but do you always check that the goal itself is secure?  After watching this video, I know I will definitely pay more attention to this.

Note:  Never assume that the crew before yours checked the field properly. Things unrelated to player safety (boundary lines, etc) aren't a big deal, but anything that could endanger the safety of players MUST be corrected before the game begins. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

High School Information

Attention: Important information has changed.  Carefully go over this document again!

This information is for referees registered for HS and comes from Jeff Eschenburg and Mark Merritt.  If you have questions, please email Jeff or Mark.

High School season is just around the corner; unless you are a new referee you should already have paid your dues to NMAA.  If you have not, please do so immediately if you plan on getting games! There is a lot of important information in this post so please read it carefully.

Finishing reading "High School Information"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On And Off The Pitch

On And Off The Pitch: 
Watch what you do

We talk a lot about how to conduct yourself when showing up to the fields, during the game, at tournaments, on travel or when you see teams/coaches away from the fields.  We talk about these things because our competency as a referee is being scrutinized from the first moment teams and coaches see us and, therefore, the impression we give is vital to our success. 

This concept is true even when at home.

A quick Google search will lead you to thousands of stories of employees being punished for content on popular social-networking websites.  Many will argue that it’s unfair for them to be held accountable for things that, perhaps, weren’t posted with their permission.  Or, they say, what they do on their own time has no bearing on their performance at work.   These are valid points but it all comes down to one issue:


We of course have the right to have fun away from refereeing.  Clearly no one can say that because you referee soccer you can’t have a night out on the town.  But remember that regardless of whether you feel it is fair or not, information posted on social networking sites often is out on the public domain for all to see.  People (coaches, players, administrators, assignors, fellow referees) will most certainly come across this information and make assumptions about you based on what they see.

I always tell people to assume that whatever you post on a social networking site is public domain, that everyone you know will eventually see it.  Adjust your privacy settings to ensure that you limit what can be seen by other people.  And finally, use common sense when you post things.  Not only can it impact your refereeing career; but it can also have negative effect on your normal career as many employers scan social networking sites as part of their hiring screening. 

Ultimately no one can tell you not to post things on your website.  Free speech is a wonderful right we enjoy, just don’t have it come back to haunt you.  Just be smart!

Patriot Games

Orion Stradford talks about his travel to El Paso, TX to do PDL games.  Bob Croft and Kris Grano also traveled to cover these matches.

On July 8th and July 16th I was assigned to work on PDL games in El Paso between the Chivas-Patriots and the Dallas-Ft Worth Tornadoes and the Chivas-Patroits vs the West TX Utd Sockers.  The PDL is considered the bottom division of the professional ranks of US Soccer, and is a developmental league for MLS scouts to find players.  Although most of these players are not paid, the atmosphere of the games is of a professional caliber. The expectations of the referees are also to perform at a professional level.  

In the games that we did, we arrived two hours before kickoff to inspect the field and meet with the referee liason.  In the pregame conference with the referee, much of the topics covered were reviewing the USSF Directives, and discussing how to handle key players.  In our warm up for the game, we did an organized warm up together for 20 minutes.  At both games, the center referee had requested that we all wear matching black shirts to show teamwork.

During the games, I did notice a high level of play and that our our discussion over the Directives was very important, as these games had many incidents that related to them.  I had to draw on my knowledge of AR involvement, injury management, and mass confrontation.  

In both games we were assessed.  The assessors at this level do not miss anything.  Everything that happens in the games are open for discussion afterwards.  Each correct or incorrect decision is dissected and brought up and talked about.

Overall the experience of doing these games was very rewarding and I hope for more opportunities to do games at that level.

Orion Stradford

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fitness: Are you ready?

Many of us have been staying active during the "off" season this summer.  Remember, just doing a few Coed games doesn't really count as staying in shape.  The fitness test is just around the corner!

More importantly than the fitness test is the fact that HS and other games are starting up soon, too.  If we train just to barely pass the fitness test we are doing a disservice to the game.  The players deserve our very best effort; if we're out of breath twenty minutes into the match we're not going to be making very good decisions.

Now is the time to get out there and put some miles in so we're ready! Until this heat wave settles out I would suggest getting your workout done indoors or early morning/late afternoon or even evening. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FWR Photos

Once again a big thank you to all the volunteers that made this possible.  Our referees performed extremely well; five of them received assignments on Championship matches!  We should be very proud of our referees.  If you would like to attend FWR next year make sure to stay tuned as information goes out around December or January.  Remember that final selections are usually made in late April so you want to get started on it early.

NM Referees on Championship Games

Santos Toquinto - Oscar Toquinto - Kris Grano - Christian Sanchez - Orion Stradford

Monday, June 28, 2010

FWR 2010

The tournament is over and, while the newly crowned champions are still catching their breath, the many volunteers who made the tournament possible are breathing a sigh of relief. 

A big thank you goes out to everyone who volunteered!  We had people hauling water, refereeing games, babysitting the fans and mowing fields late into the night.  Everyone who helped was vital to the overall success.

Stay tuned for some more updates once I have time to get pictures uploaded from the tournament. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

NMSRA Group Run

This week's group run will be at the Merritt residence, located here.  We will be running at 6:00pm and then have dinner afterward.  If you would like to eat please bring $10 to help defray the cost of food.

It is very important for FWR Referees in Albuquerque to make an effort to attend this run.

See you there! 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Terry Vaughn: The 4th Official

Being a 4th Official is not an easy job.  This is especially true for those of us in New Mexico, since we don't have the opportunity to practice the position very often.  Referees going to FWR should pay special attention to this but it is helpful to everyone.  If you have any inspiration to move up in the world of refereeing you'll need to master the role of 4th Official.

Terry Vaughn on 4th Official

Thanks to Steve Schafer for calling attention to this article...

Off the Pitch

Off the Pitch
Steve Schafer, DRA-East

Road warriors, listen up. This one is for you. In our office we had one guy retire, another guy left the company, and another guy decided to have a baby (his wife anyway). Suddenly, we had fewer people covering meetings. I ended up traveling 5 weeks in a row during March and April. Traveling for work makes it much more difficult to maintain fitness for weekend refereeing. The following are some of the workout strategies that I use when I’m on travel.

First, I try to fly out later in the morning or afternoon. That way, I can get in a workout, in familiar territory, before I leave town. Second, I research hotel locations that are workout friendly. I repeat at hotels that I have stayed at previously and already have figured out a good running route or workout routine. Some hotels have relationships with local gyms that can expand your workout options over the little workout room at the hotel. Finally, a lot of my meetings are on military bases which have really nice gyms on base that are available for use.

A big challenge while on travel is keeping in good habits. Making yourself get up early and workout is hard when you don’t get a goodnights sleep in the unfamiliar hotel bed. Working out when you get back to the hotel at the end of the day is harder than going to the free happy hour.  You can do little things too while on travel. I try to take stairs as much as possible rather than elevators. I also have done walking tours of many airports rather than sitting waiting for connections.

Thanks for listening. See you on the pitch.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

State Cup 2010 Pictures

Pictures from State Cup are posted, feel free to take a look by clicking here.

I tried my best to get pictures of as many people as possible.  However, since I also had games to do I'm sure I've missed a few people.  Everyone should be proud of our performance during the tournament.  A big thank you goes out to the following people:

Sonny Singh (mentor)
Bob Linebaugh (mentor)
Paul Quan (extraordinaire)
Craig Vencill (filmed championships)
Gary Webster (mentor)

Please email me if you would like a high quality version of your picture.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Week in Review: Week 9

The latest publication of Week in Review is available on US Soccer's website, or by clicking below:

Week in Review

A lot of discussion has come up lately related to situations at State Cup and other summer tournaments.  One of the critical elements of being a successful referee is to become a student of the game.  There are constant changes at play in how the Laws of the Game are applied and we must adapt by staying current on the updates and applying them to our matches. Week in Review is just one way we can stay on top of it all.

Do not think that you can rely solely on your instructors or assessors to convey this information to you.  First of all, we don't have enough time to cover every item during the recertification clinics.  Second, consider the fact that its "too late" if the assessor is having to remind you of a change in application during your post-game debrief. 

If you feel like you need clarification on anything mentioned in WIR articles please don't hesitate to ask.  Frank Serianni can take requests if you feel that a subject would be good to review at an ASRA meeting, as well.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Brian Hall Interview

This is an interesting article of an interview of Brian Hall.


Thanks to Mark Merritt for bring this to my attention.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Week in Review: Week 3

Another edition of the WIR has been published on the US Soccer website.  There is a lot of information this week, including some detailed discussion on Interfering with the Goalkeeper, Free Kick Management and Game Flow

Click here to read the article and watch the videos.  Remember to keep up with WIR now that the MLS season has started again.  If you have questions about how to apply any of the concepts mentioned in the articles, feel free to reach out to Kris.

Interfering with the Gloalkeeper's Release of the Ball

This is one of those situations that doesn't happen often but when it does we need to deal with it correctly.  As I've said in past posts, US Soccer is big on giving us "criteria" to use when making decisions on the pitch and this is no different. 

We should all know that a player is not allowed to prevent the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands.  The part that is tricky is what is considered " releasing the ball."  Per US Soccer, the goalkeeper is considered to be releasing the ball from the moment they have control to when the ball is clearly released into play.  This includes:
  • bouncing the ball
  • running with the ball
  • in the process of dropping the ball in preparation for kicking it
  • throwing the ball
The idea here is that the GK gets to release the ball without any inteference.  No opponent may not stand or move so close as to restrict the release.  I've found that proactively managing this situation is the best approach.  As the center, when the GK takes possession its a good idea to keep an eye out for any opponents near the GK that might be a problem.  If you feel that there is the possibility for interference you may choose to stay close enough to verbally manage the situation, if needed.  As the AR you also need to be aware of interference and be prepared to assist the Referee, especially if he or she has already moved upfield.

In this particular case (see below) the correct procedure would've been to disallow the goal and restart with an Indirect Free Kick for Philadelphia, at the spot where the interference occurred.  You can read the whole article from US Soccer by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NMSRA Group Run

Orion has been organizing the group run for some time now.  Today we went on a "long" run along the Bosque trail.  Check out the route:

View NMSRA Group Run 04/14/2010 in a larger map

If you'd like to join us in the future let Orion know.  We try to vary our days and activities to make it interesting. All fitness levels are welcome!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tactical Foul

Part of the Game Management model from US Soccer includes 100% Misconduct. This means that when we are faced with a case of 100% Misconduct (a "mandated" caution/send-off) we must give it. I know this gets confusing because there is a lot of talk about allowing physical play, even trying to minimize the number of fouls we call and cards we give. There are times when we can be flexible in our application of misconduct but we have to recognize when we don't have that option.

First, please review the Directive on 100% Misconduct: Tactical and Red Card Tackles. Now, let's take a look at the following video keeping in mind the elements of a tactical foul.

This foul hits several of the criteria listed in the directive:
  • Attacking end of the field
  • Numerical advantage
  • Quick attack means that there is less time to defend
  • The defender knows he is beat and must foul to prevent the ball from advancing

Do you agree that this is a tactical foul? For me, its important to be familiar with the criteria that US Soccer puts out for tackles like this one because then when you see the foul the decision is easy, its practically been made for you. The same can be said for DOGSO, reckless/excessive force tackles, elbows to the face (FIRE), etc. Know the criteria and when you see it happen, react appropriately. But when you don't have all the criteria met you know there is some flexibility that you can work with to decide whether to caution or just give a stern lecture.

This particular foul was all around pretty easy to get right. If it wasn't tactical, the reckless nature of the foul would make it an easy target for a caution anyways. But I want you to think about the criteria and how to apply it. If an assessor asked me why I gave this player a caution, I can say: "Per the USSF Directive on 100% Misconduct he committed a tactical foul that requires a caution."

The final thing to think about is positioning and whistle. This foul happened on a quick attack and I should've been positioned more towards the attacking end of play at the taking of the throw-in. This would've been more proactive and I wouldn't have had to sprint as hard to be close to the foul. Fouls in the "red-zone" - like in front of the bench - require us to be close to play and ready to take action. You can hear how the players, coaches and fans reacted to the foul. This is an indication that a long, hard whistle is needed to show your presence and tell everyone a card is coming. I chose to have the card out at my side immediately to calm everyone but that's not always needed. In this case, I think it quelled the angst of the attacking team's bench quite quickly.

Anything that I should have done better here? What do you guys do to ensure you get the required cautions right in your games?

Friday, April 2, 2010

WIR April 1

US Soccer has released the latest Week in Review, which also happens to be the first one for 2010.

Check it out by clicking here.

Remember that it is important to stay up to date on the Week in Review. Make sure to read them often so that you are familiar with the information and can apply it to your games as needed. Many assessors (especially at Regional events) like to reference WIR articles, so be prepared!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Off the Pitch

Steve Schafer, DRA

A pet peeve of mine is stretching. Most referees never stretch. Even I don’t stretch enough. Always make sure you warm up your muscles before stretching. A few minutes warm up followed by some basic stretching before a match will help you avoid muscle injuries. A session of post match stretching will help with recovery and prepare you for your next match. If your legs feel tight and you can’t seem to fully extend your legs in a sprint, you might need to do some extra stretching to work out tight muscles. Right after or during a hot shower is a good time to do extra stretching.

I recommend you develop a basic stretching routine that you memorize. Muscle groups to cover in your stretching include hamstrings, quadriceps, hip, calf, groin and back. Google ‘stretching’ and you will see many options for stretching routine images and books. Click here for an example of one stretching routine.

I can show you the stretching routine I use. If you have bad knees, ankles or hips, I recommend you talk to a physical therapist or doctor about what stretches you can do and what to avoid.
See you out at the complex.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fitness Resource

Does it seem like a lot of information has been provided on fitness? Well, you are correct! This is because fitness is an important part of being a good referee. Not only are you more likely to be in the right place to get the call correct, you'll also be thinking less about how much you hurt and more about "was that a red card?" Being in proper shape before the season starts can reduce the chance of an injury, as well.

Mark Merritt was nice enough to pass along one of the best fitness training guides geared for referees I've ever seen. Take some time to go through the various workouts and you'll see how valuable a resource this is.

Weekly Training Plans

Its never a bad time to start focusing on your fitness. Just remember to build a "base" before going full-out into a new workout regime. If you would like some company on your run email Orion Stradford, as I'm sure some of these workouts will find their way into the running group.

Thanks again for finding this Mark!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Running Group to Continue!!

The NMSRA Running Group is scheduled to continue in Mid-March, so watch your e-mail for updates! We will be running on Wednesday evenings during the season. If you'd like to be added to the list, please contact me at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

NMSRA Group Run

We'll be meeting for a run this Saturday at 10:00 AM on the dam that is on Juan Tabo, between Montgomery and Spain.

View Larger Map

All ability levels are welcome! Tournaments start up next weekend, so time is running out to make sure your fit and ready to go. Email Orion Stradford if you have questions.

See you there!

Friday, January 22, 2010

ODP Championships 2010

A select group of eight NM Referees started their season a little early this year. Once again we had a great group of referees attend the Region IV ODP Championships. The tournament was again held in Phoenix, AZ, at the beautiful Reach 11 Complex.

We drove down as a group on Friday morning, taking our time and even stopping for a nice lunch in Gallup. Once we were checked in at the nice hotel, we had dinner and talked about what to expect at the tournament. The next few days would go by quickly; early mornings and long hours at the field finished with evening meetings will do that to you. We had instruction from National Referees, National Instructors and even a FIFA AR.

After some rain on Monday we finished finals on Tuesday with only partly cloudy skies and fairly dry fields. Overall, the tournament was a success and we learned a lot.

Referees in Attendance:

Orion Stradford
Wilfido Mendez
Oscar Toquinto
Clayton Merritt
Mark Merritt
Amanda Forletta
Bob Croft
Kris Grano

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Far West Regional Championships 2010

By now everyone should know that New Mexico is hosting the Regional Championships this June. All parties involved are very excited for this great opportunity! Planning has been going on for months now and there is still a lot to be done. We'll need all the help we can get to make sure NM is well represented at this event.

The tournament will be held June 21-27 at the State Farm Soccer Complex. For information on the tournament you can click here to check out the Region IV website. We are looking for "soccer buffs" to help out with the field marshal volunteering; if interested please email Jeff Eschenburg and let him know you'd like to help out. If you are interested in representing NM as a referee, read on for the details...

2010 FWR Referee Requirements

As the host state for FWR we will have the unique opportunity to provide extra, or "standby", referees for the tournament. These referees will be in addition to the normal group that is selected to go to FWR so it gives us more slots and more opportunity for you to get the experience of a Regional-level event! Although you will not be guaranteed game assignments as a standby, you will be held to the same requirements as any referee selected for FWR. This means a dedication of time and effort leading up to the tournament. Please do not apply if you are unable to meet the requirements.

There will likely be 10-15 standby and 10 normal referee slots available. If you are unsure about the process by which referees are selected to go to FWR you can read the earlier blog about how it works here. Some new things this year:

  • All referees who would like to be considered need to email me (Kris Grano) by April 1st.
  • After I have verified you meet the basic requirements you will receive an email with an application to complete and return.
  • Final selection as standby or normal referee slots will be dependent on experience, grade level, performance and attendance of meetings/training sessions. I will not hold it against you if you are not able to attend meetings because you are not in the metro area.
  • All referees within the metro area will be required to attend a combination of at least six of the following meetings: Game of the Week, NMSRA Running Group, FWR Referee Meeting or other training sessions made available for this purpose.
  • Referees selected to attend FWR will be required to be available throughout the tournament. This means you can't apply and only want to do morning games, etc.
  • Referees out of the Albuquerque area will be provided a hotel room free of charge.
Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any more questions about this process. I would ask that you review this document fully before emailing me questions as the document should cover most of the frequently asked questions.