In an attempt to upgrade the assessment program at the highest level of competition in U.S. Soccer, the National Program for Referee Development is implementing the following changes as part of a pilot program for the 2002 MLS season. The pilot program will feature a two tiered approach to assessment with an observer in the stadium (who will also conduct a video review) and a coach/mentor who will review the game on tape. Before the assessment is compiled by the coach/mentor, feedback will be generated from numerous sources. This pilot program will feature delayed feedback to the officials. Video review will play an important part in the assessment of the officials working at this level.
The goal in changing the assessment program at this level is to provide a much more developmental environment for the referee through coaching and mentoring. There may be times when a top official is experiencing a “slump” in performance, or where we have a new referee moving into the MLS ranks when a coach/mentor would be sent to work with the official during a pre-game and post-game sessions. In this particular instance the coach/mentor would also be the in stadium observer and then compile the assessment after viewing the video and receiving input from others, and finally providing comprehensive feedback and developmental information to the referee.
All coach/mentors will have access to all assessments so they may see what information and instruction referees have been given in the weeks before and how they have integrated that direction into their on field performance.
Stadium Observer: Formerly called the assessor and assigned as such for the match. The role of the stadium observer is to basically fill the same game observation role as in the past, but with 3 major differences:
- No feedback is given to the officials following the match. The stadium observer may go to the locker room following the match to ask specific questions about an incident that occurred during the game to assist him in completing his feedback on the performance. For example: What did you see? What was said? What was your conversation with the AR? etc.
- The stadium observer will receive a tape of the game from MLS, which must reviewed within 24 hours of receipt.
- After viewing the tape, the “assessment” or feedback of the stadium observer is then sent to the coach/mentor assigned to that game via email or over a form on the web. This concludes the obligations of the stadium observer for this game unless the coach/mentor has questions or requires additional information.
Coach/Mentor: The coach/mentor is specifically selected for their ability to read the game, coach and develop referees for top level play, and offer feedback in a positive, instructional manner. The coach/mentor will receive a tape of each game he is assigned to and will be expected to review it within 24 hours of receipt. They will also be responsible for compiling the feedback from the following entities:
- Stadium observer.
- Federation staff personnel who saw the game and wish to offer feedback.
- League liaison (Joe Machnik, who will compile input from coaches and other league officials and sources).
Once the coach/mentor has reviewed the tape, and spoken with the individuals listed above, they will compile the feedback received and prepare the assessment on the web as well as feedback to the officials. The coach mentor should review previous assessments before the game to be able to comment on whether or not previous problems with performance have been improved upon. In the case of discrepancies in feedback between the various entities listed above, the coach/mentor is the final authority on the assessment scores and feedback of the games to which they are assigned. The coach/mentor may communicate with the officials via phone or email for feedback purposes. If a problem occurred in the game, a phone conversation followed by email is appropriate. If the game was smooth, and all entities in the review process agree, then an email with the feedback would be appropriate.
Referees should expect feedback 72 – 96 hours after the game, or before their next MLS assignment, whichever is first.
The coach/mentor who, through review of previous assessments, or review of games for a particular official, recognizes that the official is experiencing an ongoing problem, will suggest to the Manager of Professional Assignment and Assessment that a coach/mentor be sent to a particular match for additional support and instruction for that referee.
Manager of Professional Assignment and Assessment: Will make all referee assignments, stadium observer assignments and coach/mentor assignments for this program. The assignment of the coach/mentor for a game will come from the approved list with regard given to priority ranking when possible.
- Non U.S. Soccer staff national assessor serving as a Stadium Observer will receive $75.
- Non U.S. Soccer staff national assessor serving as a coach/mentor for a game will receive $75.
- Phone expenses will be reimbursed upon receipt or purchased phone cards will be issued to those involved with this program.