Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The End of a Journey

Yesterday, we arrived back home with mixed emotions: we are very happy to return home yet we are sad that this great journey has come to an end.

On Sunday we attended the World Cup final between USA and Japan. It was an amazing experience to be able to see the match in the stadium, especially since this is a game that will be remembered for a long, long time. This match demonstrated to the world the beauty, organization, strategy, and athleticism of two very tough opponents. This match was packed with excitement: USA scored, Japan equalized, USA scored, Japan equalized. The winner was decided with kicks from the penalty mark with Japan as the victor. Women's football has a new world champion. Though we are a bit sad that Team USA did not win, we were happy to see that the USA players gave it their all and fought hard until the very end.

We are proud and honored to be a part of US Soccer and have had this great opportunity to represent US Soccer at the World Cup. We are thankful for all the support, emails, and messages we received from friends and family throughout the tournament. We have been really happy to be able to share the experience of this journey with you.

We are also very thankful for Official Sports International and their generous sponsorship. Thank you!!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An Incredible Day

We just finished a really incredible day and are nearly at the end of our  WWC 2011 journey.

As many of you know, we had our final match of the tournament today.  Sweden v France for 3/4th place. As I've said on earlier posts, we are so proud to be select to officiate this match; the highest honor with USA in the final.  And to my knowledge the highest a FIFA referee man or women (and crew) from the USA has achieved to-date at a World Cup.

It all started with early breakfast, followed by 8:30am pre-game in the hotel in Frankfurt.  The 5 person referee crew then set out to Hieldelberg in order to arrive in plenty of time for the match, with rest relaxation and lunch at the hotel closest to the Stadium. We also got 5 minutes to see (from a great distance) our first and only castle we saw in our 33 days in Germany.
We were very fortunate to be heading back to Sinsheim, the place of our first match and also where we had last officiated France.  It felt like "our stadium" and we were thrilled that once again it was a sell-out crowd.  Nothing better than the comfort of "home".

Although not the best played match of the tournament we did our job, stayed concentrated and got the job done.  Kudos to Marlene and Veronica who called 10 correct offside decisions and made several more correct no calls.  As well as BIG props to Veronica for having great awareness, courage and conviction to correctly identify the contact between the French defender and Swedish forward; resulting in a very correct red card decision.

The 3rd place winner goes down in the history books.  Following the game they had a short ceremony which included the referee crew receiving medals for the game from the FIFA president, and president of the WWC.

We couldn't be more happy.  Sad our journey is nearly over, and happy that we had the honor of representing the USA at the highest level.

Now on to the final match of the tournament.  The best and final act we are hoping for is for Team USA to bring home the win.  GO USA

Thursday, July 14, 2011


US Soccer just produced this video.... Thought you might be interested in my own words, the importance of the WWC.


A Dream Come True

Finally it has happened.  USA in the final and the USA referee crew in the 3th/4th place match at the World Cup.  The ultimate representation of the USA on the world stage at every level in soccer (playing, coaching & officiating).

My dream since I set my sights on becoming a FIFA referee back in 1994 and I couldn't be happier to share the experience with my amazing USA referee crew Veronica & Marlene.

Please tune in to cheer us on Saturday, ESPN2 11am PST (11:30 kick-off).

Despite not competing for 1st place, these teams are going to want to win.  No one wants to go home so close to being in the history books.  We we are bracing ourselves for a fast and competitive match.  Always be 100% prepared for every game and take no assignment for granted, no matter how big or how small.

We plan to give it our all and make the USA proud!

Watching the Semis

Go USA! We're so excited, the USA won yesterday!

We began yesterday with a hard training session before settling in to watch two interesting matches. The facilities have been great and even though it was raining, we were still able to get in a good session beginning with a warmup inside the gym.

We watched the USA match on the television in the referee lounge. Unfortunately, we had to leave for the second match without being able to see the last goal to seal the US win, but we did follow along on the internet on the way to the stadium. Can't wait to see the highlights again.

On our way into the the stadium, Kari was asked for he autograph. Now, it's pretty rare for someone to ask for a referee autograph, and normally the people who ask have mistaken us for someone more famous...like a player. In this case though, the gentleman who asked actually had an action shot of Kari on the field and asked her to sign the picture. Pretty cool.

After the autograph session, we settled down to watch an interesting match between Japan and Sweden. Of course, the team we were cheering for was from CONCACAF...the referee team. It's always so cool to hear the anthem and watch your friends walk out on the field for one of these important matches and it's even cooler in person.

So, for now we continue to train, learn, and enjoy the chance to spend a little more time together.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Final Stage of the WWC

Great news, the USA WNT had the win of their lives on Sunday and the USA referee crew survived the final cut.  We'll be staying until the end of the tournament, despite not being eligible for a semi-final with the USA team in the other semi-final (policy of FIFA).  The only option is one of the final matches, or a long holiday...  You never know in football.  We are just pleased that despite the success of our national team FIFA thought highly enough of our crew to keep us here.

As you know, the ideal assignment would be the USAWNT in the final and the US referee crew in the 3/4th place match.  We'll be ready and focused, what ever the outcome.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Role of the 5th Official

This past Saturday, for the first time I worked as a 5th Official on the quarterfinal match between Germany and Japan.

As Marlene explained, the 5th Official is a reserve assistant referee. It is commonly known that if something happens to the referee it is the 4th Official who steps in to replace the referee. The game has evolved and so has the expertise of the referees and assistant referees. In many cases, the referees/4th officials have not worked as an assistant referee in many, many years so if they were to have to step in to replace an assistant referee they would be completely out of their comfort zone as they have not worked in this position in so long. So if something happens to an assistant referee it is the 5th Official who steps in who fully qualified for this position. Referees and assistant referees are also athletes and there is always a risk of injury.

Veronica, Carol Anne (Canada), Rita (Mexico), Quetzali (Mexico), and Mayte (Mexico)

As the 5th official is also part of the crew, I took this role very serious and assisted the team in other ways. Prior to the match, I assisted the crew in any manner I could such as checking ball pressure, helping the crew put on their communication system, and anything else that was requested. During the match, I took meticulous notes of the fouls, cards, and substitutions. Mentally, I had to be fully focused on the match so that if my assistance were required I am already on the same page as the crew, I am cognizant of the level of fouls being called, and aware of all the players in the book. During the game, I also wore my referee uniform under my track suit.

(Crew for the match right before taking the field)

I really enjoyed this assignment. During the match I sat next to the stretchers to the left of Germany's technical area. Since I sat field-level, I got to see the action very close. This was a very exciting match with lots of pace and an incredible atmosphere in the sold out stadium. This game went into overtime and Japan came out as the victor. This match reminded me that in the World Cup any team can win. Germany is the champion for the two prior World Cups, in 2003 and 2007, and had not lost a match in the World Cup since 1999. Therefore, Japan’s win was a surprise namely because the statistics were stacked against them. The fact that any team can win any game is what makes the World Cup so special.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Next Phase

As some of you know International Tournaments have a few phases.  1) The First round 2) Quarterfinals 3) Final set of matches.  We started with 50 officials, but the group will be significantly reduced by the the 3rd phase (as there are less matches to officiate).

We had the first set of "releases" announced yesterday and we had  6 referees and 12 assistant referees return to their home countries today.  There are many factors for the decision but it is nearly impossible to predict.  The best course of action for any referee is to do their very best and hope the "ball rolls in your favor."

We have now officially moved on to the next phase of play - Quarterfinals.  Where every game must have a winner.

As you may know by now the US referee team was not assigned a quarterfinal, however Veronica will be serving as the 5th official (reserve AR).  We'll have Veronica explain her participation following her match on Saturday - Germany v Japan.

Following the Quarterfinals, is the last phase of play.  We'll have one more "release" and those that remain would have the possibility to work one of the 4 final matches.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.  Regardless of the outcome, we've had a wonderful experience and THANK EVERYONE for all your support.


Thursday, July 7, 2011


Sorry for the lack of posts the past few days, things have been really busy. As VP mentioned, we started out the Fourth of July with a journey from Wolfsburg to Frankfurt. After a quick recovery session and changing laundry out real fast, Carol Anne, Kari and I were back on the train to Augsburg to officiate England v Japan. The weather was great in Augsburg. In Wolfsburg, the weather was a little less lovely as you can see in this photo Kari took on our VW tour.
Augsburg is a lovely place, but because the matches were so close together, we spent a lot of time resting and reading. Every game at this tournament is important and this match determined who got first and second place in the group. The game isn't just physically demanding, but it requires a huge amount of concentration and multi-tasking. There are more cameras watching the field than referees and we have to vigilant not just during the match, but in our preparation and even after the game as we walk off the field.

The game was really enjoyable and, even though we missed VP, it was great to have another opportunity to work. One of the cool things about visiting Augsburg was the chance the catch up with Jen Bennett. Just like back home, we get assessed on every game and in Augsburg, Jen was our assessor. Because there are only a few referee types at each of the venues, we end up hanging out with our assessor for meals so it was nice to spend some time with a familiar face from home.
As we were warming up, I thought back to all the games and the work, and time that went into getting here and how fortunate we've been to get the chance to work with fantastic people in lovely venues, and with really enthusiastic crowds. How often do you get applause when you warm up for a game? I can't be 100% sure, but I think they were actually cheering for us.

So, now we're back in Frankfurt. We went and watched the entertaining game between Brazil and Equatorial Guinea at the stadium and other games on tv.
The assignments have just been handed out for the quarterfinals. Veronica will be traveling back to Wolfsburg to be the fifth official (back up assistant referee) with the Mexican crew and Carol Anne (fourth official) for the game between Germany and Japan on the 9th at 11:45 am west coast time. Beginning with the quarterfinals, they've begun assigning a fifth official to be prepared to jump into the game if an assistant referee gets injured during the game. Fourth officials are referees and at this level, referees and assistant referees are very specialized. Many of the referees have not been an assistant in years and with the importance of each decision, having someone who knows the position is critical. We are looking forward to watching what should be some exciting quarterfinal matches.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Several Days of Travel & 3rd Assignment

These last few days have been extremely busy, so there is much for us to fill you in. On Saturday, we traveled by train to Wolfsburg, which is 367 kilometers north of Frankfurt (tournament headquarters). The next day, since the match did not kick off until 6 pm, we had plenty of time to explore our surroundings. The city of Wolfsburg was established to manufacture the VW Beetle and the VW factory is located right next to the hotel. Also located next to the hotel is the Autostadt, an automobile museum. We spent the morning in awe of beautiful cars, learning about their design, and spent the afternoon relaxing in the hotel preparing for our match.

(Carol Ann, Marlene, Kari & Veronica at the Frankfurt train station)

Below are a few pictures from the Autostadt...

It had rained the entire day, so went into the match knowing and expecting that the wet conditions could have a potential impact on the match. The match between Brazil and Norway turned out to be very exciting with a final score of 3-0. Luckily for us, even though it is was a bit chilly, the field surface drained pretty well and the wet conditions did not have too much of an impact.

Sunday, immediately after we completed our match we heard the news about the appointments for the 3rd round of matches. Kari and Marlene will be joining Carol Ann (Canada) and Ivonne (El Salvador) to work the match on Wednesday between England and Japan, in Augsburg. Kari will be working as a 4th official.

Some of you may be wondering why this assignment is not being officiated as a trio. In fact, in women’s refereeing we do not have a true trio system. As the tournament progresses, we may be asked to work with other officials again.

Today has been very hectic as we began our day in the northern part of Germany, in Wolfsburg. We traveled for over 3 hours back to Frankfurt. Upon arrival, we had lunch, had a recovery training session, and attended the debriefing for Sunday’s matches. Kari, Marlene, Carol Ann, and Ivonne then had to grab their bags and head right back to the train station to travel for their assignment in Augsburg, which is another 3+ hours, and is located in the southern part of Germany. So in total, the majority of the crew for the next match traveled close to 7 hours and covered 614 kilometers. What a day!

I know I will be glued to the TV on Tuesday. Please join me in wishing them luck in their next game.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Watching the Matches

As you may imagine, officiating at the World Cup is special for many reasons aside from actually officiating matches. As a group we watch each and every match of the tournament. It is an incredible experience to be able to watch matches with other high level referees and be able to discuss situations as they occur. We watch and study each game as way to prepare for our next match by observing the teams, tactics, and game situations. And of course, we enjoy watching beautiful football!

We have very strong camaraderie amongst the referees, so every time we see our colleagues make good decisions we cheer and applaud for our teammates.

Nine different venues are being used for the World Cup, which means it is not possible to watch the majority of the games live. Thus, up until this point, we have only been able to watch matches on TV. Yesterday we had a special treat. We went to our first match as spectators, to watch Germany vs. Nigeria at the Frankfurt Stadium. The atmosphere at the game was absolutely incredible! The sold out stadium had more than 49,000 spectators cheering loudly for their team--particularly, for the host country team.

Tomorrow we travel to Wolfsburg for our second match. Please wish us luck!