The pre-season for fall soccer in the US is winding down and my regular season starts tomorrow night with a great high school game between last year’s Big School Division girls state champion versus the Big School/nationally Top-10 team from two states over. I’m looking forward to that game as it should be one of the better games of the year. Good chance there will be fourteen or fifteen players with current full D-1 scholarship offers on the field at a time. Seldom see that many full scholarship players on the field in a college game.
Here are a couple of things that have been on my mind for the past couple of weeks:
Card policy in the preseason:
Is the preseason the time to be lenient as the games don’t count for anything more than breaking a good sweat, working on mechanics, and getting some good game tape for the coaches to pore over? Or is it the time to issue ticky-tack yellow cards to deal with issues early and in a fairly cost free manner as cards don’t accumulate. Should we be carding for uniform violations when during the season, the appropriate course of action is “Hey #23, take care of it at the next whistle….” or should we be carding for that foul that could be, if we squint the right way, a tactical foul, or just award a simple direct free kick? I’ve worked with refs who go in all directions on this. What do you think?
My assignors love/hate me.
This weekend I’m working my first game in a new college conference. This conference is significantly higher in quality of play than the other college conferences I’ve worked in the past. Traditionally, the way a ref is broken into a new conference is they get a couple of games on the line to acclimate to the style and expectations of play, and then an easy center. I just received a game from my assignor between two teams who, in the past five matches, have had a combined 15 red cards. I’m in the middle. And, I’m being assessed. I’m not sure if my assignor loves me, and wants to give me a chance to shine, or hates me.
How to tell a friend that it is time to step back
I was working a girls high school varsity scrimmage last night in a double dual/three whistle system. Good game between two quality teams. My center segment goes fine. A fellow ref who has been reffing for thirty five years has the middle segment in the center. Blue was pushing a high offside line and an aggressive big ball counter-attack strategy. I was the side official for the Blue defensive end. I noticed half a dozen times that I was the defacto center as the true center was fifteen yards behind Blue’s second to last defender and the ball was rapidly advancing up field on a Blue counterattack.
He was not doing himself any good, he was not doing the players any good, and he was not doing his crew any good. How does one tell a colleague that maybe it is time to shift down to very small school varsity games, and middle school where the running requirements are miniscule? He just can’t cover ground anymore and he can’t sell a good call from 50 yards away.
Damn the World Cup
Every World Cup year sees moderately skilled players try to do what they saw on TV. And the coaches reanchor their expectations of physicality in one direction only as they saw the arm bars the Germans were using without getting called for it, so they want their players to lock out, and then scream bloody murder when there is minor hand fighting.
Time to run
Soccer refereeing fitness is always a different beast than general running fitness. A good general fitness level is a necessary precondition, but a few weeks of the stop, go, walk, haul ass, backpedal, slide step, spin, haul ass routine is needed to get the legs in good shape again. I took six weeks off this summer for family time, and I was feeling the reconditioning process in the first two weeks of preseason.