Soccer referees usually don’t get praise. It just goes with the
Soccer referees usually don’t get praise. It just goes with the territory.
Unless they have the reputation of Brian Hall.
Hall, assistant coach for the Gilroy High boys’ soccer team and an international soccer referee, was named by the MLS as this year’s Official Sports International (OSI) Referee of the Year. The Cupertino native also won the award, which is decided by MLS coaches, general managers, players and referees, in 2003.
“It’s just reassuring to me that I can still get the job done,” said Hall, who was forced to sit out 2004 because of a tendon injury.
Hall, who in 2002 became the first American-born referee to work a World Cup, reffed 23 MLS games this season. A few were key games in MLS playoffs, which ended last weekend with the L.A. Galaxy winning the championship.
One of those games was a first-round tilt between D.C. United and the Chicago Fire at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Hall had to make a call in the 89th minute of the game that took a goal away from the Fire. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.
Situations like that don’t make referees the most liked people in the world. But it’s become natural to Hall.
“After you reach a certain level…there are more decisions that are more costly that are scrutinized more than in other games,” he said Tuesday from a hotel in Houston, Tex. where he was waiting to referee a friendly match between Mexico and Bulgaria.
A big part of Hall’s success has been his consistency in the way he manages games – and the personalities that go along with them.
“One of the things that is just key at refereeing at that level is people management and having a personality and me managing the game and managing the players to the point where the players feel comfortable to talk to you and the coaches feel comfortable to talk to you,” he said. “There’s that family where you’re a known entity.”
Hall feels his experience from the “other” side as a coach at Gilroy and De Anza College has also helped him become a better ref.
“When I’m reffing, when a hard tackle happens, you can feel the same pain and discomfort and frustration (that the players do),” Hall said. “It lets you have a good feel for the game.”
Unfortunately, because he missed 2004 Hall can’t be considered to officiate in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. However, in the past year he did have the opportunity to officiate World Cup qualifiers between Mexico and Guatemala, Panama and Mexico and Costa Rica and Guatemala.