December 10 saw the Major League Soccer season reach its conclusion, when Seattle Sounders overcame Toronto FC and were crowned MLS Cup Champions.
Three months later, the new season is upon us once again. It’s certainly a quick turnaround and the officials within the Professional Referee Organization have had an intense offseason to ensure they remain at their peak.
Jose Carlos Rivero’s final game of 2016 came in the Eastern Conference Semifinal second leg on November 6, and he was back to action a month later in preparation for his seventh season in MLS, and sixth as a referee.
“I’ve been very busy these past two-and-a-half months with a lot of training,” Rivero told proreferees.com. “Not just physically, but also mentally and educationally, with the new changes in Law and the Video Replay implementation.
“I started my light workout routine on December 15 through to the beginning of January, and right after that the heavy training comes in to prepare us for the fitness test at the beginning of February.
“Once the fitness test is done, we started preseason games. Our preparation is very intense as we get closer to the beginning of the season.”
Fitness is key to performance, which is why PRO have an ever-expanding team of support staff to assist the officials with all aspects, from strength and conditioning through to nutritional advice, something that Rivero has been paying close attention to during the break.
The official has also used the time away from the field to improve his mobility on it, which Rivero believes will help him create better angles while refereeing, leading to making better decisions during the game.
While no one is perfect, Rivero is giving himself every opportunity.
“Consistency will be my number one priority for this season. This goes hand in hand with better fitness, nutrition and mobility,” he continued.
“In the fitness aspect, I am working very hard with Matt Hawkey [Director of Performance and Sport Science], working on a more explosive and dynamic exercise routine to improve my mobility in the field. In nutrition, I’m working with Gena [Wollenberg, Nutritionist], to learn more about my food intake, calories, proteins, the right amount of sugar and how hydrated we should be.
“I analyzed all my games from the 2016 season and I did a self-evaluation, keeping the positive and improving the negative for each game. We all know that we are not perfect and that we all make mistakes, but my goal for the upcoming year will be to minimize mistakes overall.
“One game at a time is my new approach. I’m aiming for an outstanding year full of great opportunities and professional growth.”