When PRO revealed the crew that would be officiating at the MLS All-Star game in August, it may not have been a huge surprise to see Jeremy Hanson among the names included for the match-up against Real Madrid.
After all, the assistant referee has been assigned to more MLS games than any other so far this year, so taking the flag as the division’s best players go head-to-head with the finest Europe has to offer can be seen as just reward for his efforts.
That statistic — Hanson has been an AR in 16 MLS games to date — wasn’t something that he was aware of. It’s simply been a case of head down, training hard, learning with every game, and now recognition has followed.
“I didn’t even realize that I had the most matches to this point until it was posted in the initial press release,” Hanson said, speaking to proreferees.com.
“Honestly, I have just been following my training, thanks to Matt Hawkey, and making sure to mentally prepare for each match the best I can. I am also thankful for the trust PRO has in me — Greg Barkey in particular — who has continued to push me in the first half of the season.
“I was hopeful of the assignment but never expectant. To thrive in this environment, you have to have self-confidence, a belief that you are the next guy in line — a constant need to want more. There is no guarantee anything is coming, but that is what drives me to keep working hard.”
Joining Hanson in leading out the two teams at Toyota Field on August 2 will be referee Allen Chapman, fellow AR Adam Wienckowski and fourth official Jose Carlos Rivero, with Jason White on fifth official duties.
After rising through the officiating ranks together, Hanson is looking forward to sharing the experience — which he describes as a career highlight — with Chapman et al. A highlight it may be, but it doesn’t end here for Hanson.
Under the guidance of PRO and, once again reserving praise for Barkey, Hanson is constantly progressing. He’s hoping this is just one of many major assignments in the future, although he is still taking things one game at a time — the All-Star game isn’t even in focus just yet!
“Allen and I came through a lot of the same youth referee ranks at the same time — we have worked quite a few matches together, and work extremely well together. Adam and Jason are phenomenal, on and off the field, and I am certainly fortunate to be sharing this experience with them.
“JC Rivero is also a great guy and has been working very hard to get here, and I am very excited for him to have received this honor as well. I am certainly in some very good company and I’m incredibly humbled and excited to be working this game with this group.
“I have really felt my game progress since the hiring of Greg Barkey as the manager of assistant referees. The weekly updates and emphasis on collectively raising our game to the next level has really helped me to focus on what I can control, to help the crew and improve my performance.
“I started refereeing local leagues to make some extra money on the weekends, working with a lot of really good people along the way that were pushing me to the next level, encouraging me the whole time and really believing in me.
“That all began with my wife, Erin, and my kids who have been my biggest fans, and there is no way I would have come close to this level without them!
“I would say this is my career highlight but I would also be quick to point out that I will continue to strive to achieve; and if anything, this gives me a further push to keep working for more.
“This whole thing is still “out there” for me and hasn’t really sunk in. I have an MLS match on the 23rd, and I will begin preparation and start thinking about the All-Star game after, when I’m sure I will get even more excited and begin to feel some pressure. It will be another match where I need to do my best and, when it’s all over and we’ve done our job, I will be able to reflect on an amazing experience.”