On Sunday night, we learned who will play in MLS Cup. On Monday morning, we learned who will referee the league's marquee match.
The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) announced that Hilario Grajeda will referee Dec. 7's final between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park, with Ismail Elfath as the fourth official and Paul Scott and Bill Bittmar patrolling the sidelines. ...
See the whole story here, courtesy of MLSSoccer.com.
Kicking Back Comments: This is a bit of a "dark horse" assignment for me. Not because the crew is not deserving ... or "getting a shot," But more because Hilario referees the All Star Game this year.
Assignments (in all walks of life) are sometimes "political treats" given to some who are from a particular place, or have done particular favors for others. Also, and frankly, it is hard to pick from so many good folks ... or in other contexts ... equally skilled folks. So what can happen is the folks who decide, go with who they know best, which is often someone close to home.
This is true in life folks, and is certainly not limited to soccer.
But, I don't think this is the case here honestly ... in fact MLS and PRO have seen to go the other direction to a pure meritocracy for the referee by assigning Hilario to both matches.
Selection of Bill Ditmar to the final I think is terrific as well. He is a class referee who I have enjoyed working with several times and certainly did well this year in a field of very talented ARs and he too worked the All Star Game this year. Also, while I have not watched Paul, I genuinely have to believe that he falls in to the same paradigm detailed above.
Finally, I am truly happy for Ismail. Being a 4th official on a Professional League final is an awesome responsibility that I can attest to personally. As a young professional referees, I am certain it is an event he will never forget in his life.