MAY 2017 - Dallas Cup 2017 First Hand Account
On April 7th, I arrived in Texas ahead of my participation in the Dallas Cup 2017. This was my first experience refereeing abroad and was looking forward to meeting other referees from around the world. It was also great to get some sunshine for a change in the 25℃ heat! While in Texas, I would be staying in Richardson with the Neiman family and another referee from Scotland. The Neimans’ were very friendly and were always keen to show me round Dallas.
The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison was the venue for the Welcome World Reception. The first round of fixtures were scheduled to kick off early Sunday morning, so it was a very sensible evening. The organisers gave thanks to all those involved in the build-up and reminded everyone that without the volunteers, the Dallas Cup would not be possible. Gordon Jago, an ambassador of the Dallas Cup, also gave a speech of this time at the tournament and promoted ‘Dallas is Diversity’. All referees were invited to a FIFA reception beforehand. This was a chance to socialise with other referees from around the world before the tournament.
The Sunday started early with a mandatory referee meeting at 7am. The Director of Match Officials ran through the format of the tournament and other important information such as the head injury assessment procedure, match administration and adverse weather conditions. We were warned that Texas weather can vary greatly during the tournament week and lightning storms were also expected.
U15s - Dallas Texans (TEX) v Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
My first game was scheduled to kick off at 11.30am at the MoneyGram Soccer Park. I was appointed as the match referee and my accompanying officials originated from Texas, Nebraska and Hong Kong. It was a very sunny and humid afternoon with high speed winds. With the Dallas Texans being a local team, there was a large support at the side of the field and Eintracht Frankfurt were returning champions who had high expectations for the tournament. So it was shaping up to be a great encounter.
Frankfurt were much taller and physically stronger than their opponents which made the match look like men against boys! Frankfurt took the lead in the second half and started to take the foot off the gas. However the Texans were out to cause an upset and did so in a miraculous and slightly lucky fashion. In the final minutes of the match, the Texan goalkeeper kicked the ball from his own penalty area and the wind carried the ball the entire length of the field into the Frankfurt net. The players went ballistic as did the spectators while the Germans lay on the ground in disbelief. Frankfurt would go onto the quarter finals while the Texans hopes would end at the group stage.
U17s – Oakville (CAN) v Sporting Santa Carla (USA)
A cool and overcast morning made day 2 at MoneyGram feel very much like home. Again I was appointed as the match referee and would be working with officials from Texas, Indiana and England. Sporting Santa Carla were a technical side with quick passing and skilful moves on display while Oakville were strong defensively. The game was a stalemate until the final 5 minutes. Santa Carla found a gap in the defence and played a through ball to an attacker who slotted the ball home from close range. Santa Carla would go onto lose 2-0 in the final to Querétaro F.C. Gallos Blancos.
Later on in the day I was appointed as 4th official for Estudiantes CSC from Venezuela and Rio Rapids from New Mexico. However, this match was postponed to later in the week due to a lightning storm!
U15s – FC Golden State (USA) v Solar Chelsea FC (USA)
I felt my overall performance at the tournament was going well and was glad to hear I was appointed to a match past the group stage. Considering this was my first time at the Dallas Cup, I was delighted to receive the appointment to referee a semi-final at MoneyGram Park. My assistants were from Japan and Tennessee and my 4th official was from Michigan. It was a hot Friday night in Texas and with both teams being from the USA, a large crowd formed at the side of the field to watch.
The match was very end to end with both sides creating numerous chances. Golden State took the lead at the start of the second half and tried to hold onto the lead for the remainder of the match. Solar Chelsea managed to clinch an equaliser in the final 10 minutes of the match, which saw the game into extra time. The players were exhausted from the heat and the high pace of the game, as were the referees, so as expected the teams could not be separated and the match had to go to penalties. In the end, Golden State came out on top after 7 penalties each and progressed to the final where they would lose 2-0 to Maebashi FC.
I am happy to report that my experience of the Dallas Cup has been a successful one. I have met many people from around the world while visiting a part of America I have never seen before. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Dallas and have gained a great level of experience from refereeing in another continent. I would like to thank everyone at the Dallas Cup for all their hard work and their hospitality. It is something I will never forget and I’m sure I will be back in the future.
Connor (3rd left) with some fellow referees.