Listen this isn't a hard issue to solve, the root of the issue is simply this: There are only 4 full time MLS officials, everyone else is a temp worker. Now I don't know about your place of business but temp workers are folks that are hired via a 3rd party (in this case US Soccer) to do a job, but since they aren't employees of the company they work for and they aren't full time workers they most often are very un-engaged and often unprofessional in how they do the job.
In the past I have worked with temps hired to write code for computer programs, and often they are very good at what they do, but because they are just completing the task at hand they often take shortcuts or do the job how they think it should be done instead of what was asked for. I have worked with temps in retail situations during the holidays where they are hired for a couple weeks to just stock shelves or other tasks and sometimes you get really good people who are trying to get a full time job out of their temp position, but just as often you get someone who doesn't care they know you need workers and that they can get away with doing little or paying little attention to what they are doing.
Does this sound familiar to you? The solution after the jump:
I offer up this very easy solution to Major League Soccer and their owners (you can easily approve and deal with this issue later this month at the meetings you will hold during the All Star Match in New York), and that should get no resistance from US Soccer. Each team in MLS will put up $100,000 dollars per year to the MLS Officials Fund, this fund will support the hiring of 12 full time officials at a wage of $60-75,000 per year based on experience and certifications.
Officials will continue be reviewed on a match by match basis by US Soccer and now will be reviewed on quarterly basis by MLS, any official who doesn't meet the physical or performance standards will be suspended for a quarter and assigned to training and rehabilitation. If at the end of the next quarter those officials do not meet the standards they will have their contracts terminated, and they will have the option of becoming part time officials and re applying for full time status in the future.
Only full time officials will be allowed to be assigned to referee MLS matches, all other officials will continue to be hired as temporary workers but with an option to apply for one of the full time positions each quarter to fill any vacant positions. These officials will have the opportunity to receive training to help them become better at their jobs and eventually certified to be full time officials.
Now I know that is a very rough overview but I have to believe that every team needs to be vested in raising the level of the officials, one of the most desperate areas of improvement in Major League Soccer.
The reality is that for the sport and league to continue to grow in the US, this issue must be addressed. When more fans, media members, and others are talking about the officials after matches rather than the play, we have a very serious issue.
I really hope that one of the owners is brave enough to raise this idea in a couple weeks as they sit around a table in New York City.
OFF MY SOAPBOX