Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's Showtime!

Our 1st match is now under our belt and I am just now sitting down to write this report at about 1am. WOW, What an exciting evening!

The evening started off with a police escort to the stadium. Instead of the typical siren to clear cars, bikers and mopeds out of our way, the Police here actually speak over a loud speaker. Our local volunteers translated: "stop", "move", "let me go first". It worked. We arrived at the stadium 20 minutes early!

Upon arrival, Isabel, Rita, Jen and I did the pre-requisite check of the field. A great opportunity to make sure field markings were correct, understand the true field dimensions and get a feel for the atmosphere and the condition of the field. If you watched the match you could probably see for yourself - it was soft. Needless to say I did not even consider wearing the turf shoes I had planned, but decided it would be safer to go with cleats. It was my first good call of the evening.

Japan vs. England was bound to be an exciting match up. Japan is very skillful, tactfully sound and quick. England is also skillful and physically strong. Being in the group with Germany (an incredibly dominate team as seen in game #1) these teams knew that winning would give them an excellent opportunity to go through to the next round.

Tonight everyone was in good spirits. It was nice to say hello and wish good luck to previous stars from the WUSA - Kelly Smith and Homare Sawa, both excellent and key players for their respective teams. It certainly can be helpful in establishing credibility right away if the players respect the referee from past experiences.

The pace of the game was in a word - FAST. End to end, back and forth, any one's match for sure. The players really came out to play and after a few fouls and an early card, the game settled in and they played. As the referee, I had to stay on top of a lot of contact in the box, with players fighting for position on corners and free kicks. We had a very unusual free kick by Japan where two players knelt down in front of their opponents. It resulted in a deflection back to their team for a shot on goal. The referee team looked closely for any misconduct or handballs, but nothing - a strange one for sure. In the end England scored 2 goals in the run of play and Japan had 2 goals, both as a result of free kicks. A tie - one of several on the second day of games at the WWC '07.

This match was a joy to referee. I had a fantastic time and it was such an honor. I was pleased to work with two great assistants and of course a fabulous 4th official.

By the way, when working properly (sometimes it cut in and out), the Electronic Communication Device is an effective tool. Could you see the device around my waist? How many pounds did it add on TV??

Thanks everyone for watching and also the notes of support. We go out there and represent you - the USA - each and every time we take the field.

It is now 1:20; time for bed. Check the blog often for updates on assignments. Best, Kari.