It’s only been a matter of weeks since the 2016 MLS season reached its conclusion and the Seattle Sounders defeated Toronto FC to be crowned MLS Cup champions.
The holidays have since passed, the Combine and SuperDraft have taken place, and the MLS schedule has been announced as the pace picks up ahead of the 2017 season.
Rubiel Vazquez, who debuted on the PRO roster in 2016, is already looking forward to tasting the on-field action once again.
“It was nice to get away from soccer – I enjoyed Christmas and New Year’s, went on vacation with my family, and the best part of my break was my engagement,” the fourth official told proreferees.com.
“But I’m very excited for the 2017 season, and I can’t wait to get back out there.
“My target remains the same. I plan on taking each game one at a time, putting my complete focus on the game at hand.”
Vazquez was one of a number of officials in attendance at the adidas MLS Combine between January 8-12.
The Combine – held in Los Angeles – is an annual showcase event attended by coaches, general managers and scouts, who cast their eyes over MLS hopefuls.
The players are split into four teams and put through their paces in physical and mental tests, before playing matches against one another, all with the hope of being selected at the SuperDraft presented by adidas.
The PRO officials in attendance at the Combine worked closely with the Video Assistant Referee program which was introduced and tested in the USL last season.
Four of PRO’s referees are already fully trained up on the new technology – training that will extend across the roster during 2017. Not only was the Combine educational, it also gave the colleagues a chance to reacquaint.
“The Combine was a great experience – we were training on the video assistant referee program, which is something we’re excited to work on more in the future.
“In our training we acted as VARs and as referees, rotating between us all. When we weren’t working, we were watching others and still learning.
“It was great to see the guys again, we caught up with each other and started to talk about the upcoming season. We are all ready to get back to work.”
That work starts this week, when PRO stages its first preseason training camp of 2017, which will be attended by the Organization’s officials, assessors and support staff.
A review of 2016 is on the agenda, as is a look ahead to 2017, while officials will be undergo fitness tests under the guidance of PRO Sports Scientist Matt Hawkey.
“With the test right around the corner, I am working as hard as possible to be ready,” Vazquez added. “My personal fitness is progressing very well.
“It did take a while to get back into it since we just came back from the offseason, which included vacations, but it feels great to be back.”
18 @MLS clubs report for preseason today.
Our preseason also starts this week, with officials gathering for training in Pasadena, CA. pic.twitter.com/gR3gnEpiaY
— PRO (@PROreferees) January 23, 2017