Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week 31 in Review: A Must Read for AR's

For those who are unfamiliar, US Soccer puts out a series of instructional pieces every week highlighting events from the previous weeks games. These instructional tools are exceptionally well done and are absolutely necessary to review for all referees.

Weeks 31's material, in part, is particularly useful to AR's. See the full material here, and a video clip below from the Seattle v. LA playoff match last week.

In the lexicon of the LOTG, the player who scored the goal was "Gaining an advantage from being in that offside position."

A complete account of the incident, and the excellent call from AR (Tom Supple) is accounted for in the article, and I strongly recommend that all read it.

There are three points however that the article did not mention that I want to bring up here.

First, is the amount of patience necessary from the AR in making this call. When the shot is first taken, there is, and should not be any flag as there is no one at that time gaining an advantage from their position. Imagine briefly as the time of taking the shot if the AR put their flag up and the ball went directly into the net. There you are standing there with the flag up, after a beautiful goal 20 yards out.

Even if the referee was wise enough to understand in that instant and waive the flag down, you can bet your flipping coin that the defenders will be running over to you and the AR saying "he had the flag up, it's not a goal." This would immediately and quite possibly in a match like this one damage your credibility for the remainder. Take particular note to how early in the match this was ... not even a minute was played.

Second, on the amount of time played, everyone has to be ready FROM THE FIRST WHISTLE for anything. [In fact before hand in matches like this as there can be shenanigans that occur well before the first whistle that the refereeing team has to be prepared for.] We have all been in matches that we want to "work our way into". Not so here! (25) Seconds into the match the AR was faced with this, and nailed it. This was absolutely a game critical incident that the AR got right, and no doubt, saved the game with. Again from above, imagine if a goal stood there.

The critical point is, especially for ARs, there is no down time, and you always have to be ready. First minute, last minute, overtime ... always. This is one of the particular challenges of being an AR. A referee has significantly more flexibility in what they can do and how they can manage things. No such luxury for an AR. Offiside is offside, there is no talking your way out if it, and there are no variations of it.

Finally, after the call was made, look at the excellent support that the referee, Ricardo Salazar, gave to the AR, Tom Supple. Hard whistle, run to the spot, point to the AR, and restart. Perfect support for an excellent call.

For anyone looking, the US has some of the very best AR's in the world, and I would opine has for some time. This example plainly demonstrates just how good they are.

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