Experienced assistant referees Chris Strickland and Sean Hurd are two of six officials to formally announce their retirements from PRO.
Following the conclusion of the 2016 season, Strickland and Hurd have stepped down, alongside James Conlee, Mathieu Bourdeau, Jaime Herrera and Tyler Ploeger.
“It is always an occasion of mixed emotions when an official retires from active duty – this season is no exception,” PRO General Manager Peter Walton said.
“When I look at the vast experience that PRO will be losing when these guys hang their boots up, for me it’s a sad day, but it also provides opportunities for newer officials to step up, and that fills me with excitement for the seasons ahead.
“All five officials will be missed on the field but hopefully they will stay in the game as coaches or mentors to the next generation.”
Having started out in the early 1990s, Strickland made his professional debut in the inaugural Major League Soccer season, officiating LA Galaxy versus Kansas City Wizards in May 1996.
He has since made more than 250 MLS appearances, as well as taking the flag for three CONCACAF Gold Cups, two FIFA World Club Championships, the Olympic Games, an MLS Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League Final.
His AR colleague Hurd, who has spent 10 years in MLS, has also accumulated a number of international honors, including representing the United States at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Conlee, also an AR, made his MLS debut in 2008 and has since been assigned to the U.S. Open Cup (2015) and MLS Cup (2015 – as fifth official). Although retiring from active duty, Conlee will stay with PRO as an Assistant Referee Coach, in a team headed up by Manager of Assistant Referees, Greg Barkey.
Canadian referee Bourdeau steps down from the roster after receiving three assignments in the MLS middle this year, while Herrera became the Manager of CONCACAF’s Refereeing Department following the announcement of his retirement in October.
They are joined in retirement by Ploeger, who was assigned to nearly 100 MLS matches as a fourth official in his career.
Image: Mathieu Bourdeau in MLS action