Image: Referee Ted Unkel leads out the teams in the MLS 2016 season opener.
Hilario Grajeda makes his MLS return this weekend, having faced a lengthy spell on the sidelines following foot surgery.
Columbus Crew versus Philadelphia Union will be the official’s first center assignment since Week 4 of the 2015 season, and he will be joined by assistant referees James Conlee and Jason White, along with fourth official Geoff Gamble.
The Week 2 assignments were announced on Tuesday and Ted Unkel, who took charge of San Jose Earthquakes against Colorado Rapids on Soccer Sunday, will get the second round of games under way. This week it’s Orlando City versus Chicago Fire for the man who refereed last year’s U.S. Open Cup Final.
Alan Kelly has also picked up his second assignment of 2016 – New York City versus Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium. The 2015 MLS Referee of the Year was called into action during Seattle Sounders versus Sporting Kansas City last time out, dismissing Sounders defender Oniel Fisher just before half-time.
It will be Juan Guzman who officiates the Sounders this time around when they face Real Salt Lake on Saturday (4pm EDT) – a team involved in 2016’s first PRO Play of the Week.
Paul Rejer, PRO’s Training & Development Manager, took a closer look at the decision to disallow a Cyle Larin goal for Orlando City against RSL in Week 1.
The 2015 AR of the Year – Corey Parker – will run the line with Ian Anderson this weekend, supporting center referee Fotis Bazakos at Colorado Rapids versus LA Galaxy.
Along with Guzman and Bazakos, Silviu Petrescu, Drew Fischer, Edvin Jurisevic and Jorge Gonzalez all take the whistle on Saturday for the first time in 2016.
Petrescu – MLS Referee of the Year in 2012 – will be at Gillette Stadium for New England Revolution against D.C. United (3pm EDT), while Fischer has been assigned to Montreal Impact against New York Red Bulls an hour later.
Jurisevic is at Children’s Mercy Park where U.S. Open Cup champions Sporting Kansas City take on Vancouver Whitecaps, while Gonzalez will be handling the Texan derby between Houston Dynamo versus FC Dallas – both matches getting under way at 8:30pm EDT.
Jair Marrufo, another referee making his first MLS appearance of the new season, will bring the second round of games to a close.
The 38-year-old, who took charge of the 2015 MLS Cup in which Portland Timbers emerged victorious, is at the Avaya Stadium for Sunday’s match-up between San Jose Earthquakes and the current MLS champions (7pm EDT).