It had already been a pretty good period in the career of Rubiel Vazquez, a man who joined the PRO roster in 2016 and made his debut in the MLS middle earlier this year. However, things were about to get even better.
In November, Vazquez received the news that he would be taking charge of the NASL Championship game, leading San Francisco Deltas and New York Cosmos out in front of a capacity crowd in California.
On a historic night, the hosts claimed the title in their first season, overcoming the defending champions 2-0 at Kezar Stadium. The first goal came from the penalty spot, the second with almost the last kick of the game after Vazquez expertly played advantage.
“When I first got the assignment, I couldn’t believe it,” recalled the official. “I had to look a few times before realizing what game I had just been given. It didn’t even cross my mind that I would get this game, it was an amazing feeling.
“The penalty for the first goal was a tough call; you never want a game to be determined by a questionable call from the referee. Luckily, I had good positioning to make the call. The advantage at the end is every referee’s dream, one that leads to a goal.
“Both teams wanted the win and they were going to do everything possible to get it. The first half was very physical with lots of fouls; the second half was a lot calmer. With the help of my crew, it was a successful game.
“The San Francisco atmosphere was incredible. It was a historic night for the club, winning the Championship in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,000. It was great to watch the fans celebrate with their team at the end.”
With that game came the end of the referee’s season and what has been a real breakthrough year for Vazquez. With four appearances in the MLS center, sitting alongside the NASL Championship and numerous other assignments across the divisions, his rapid rise continues.
He attributes that progression to the constant support of PRO, and the hard work will continue in his bid for further opportunities. But first comes a break from soccer, and another day sure to live long in the memory of Vazquez – his wedding day!
“It has been an amazing second year as part of PRO,” he continued. “The development from last year to this one has been great and it comes with experience. PRO has been great helping not only me, but all upcoming referees.
“The monthly camps we attend are fundamental to our growing, and the assessment after each game is the best thing, because I use that feedback to apply to my next game. That is how we grow as referees, you have to always keep learning.
“Reflecting on this season, it’s been incredible for me. Getting the opportunity to referee my first MLS game is something I will never forget, followed by three more MLS assignments and the NASL final – it has been an unbelievable year.
“This offseason will be a special one – I will be getting married. I’m looking forward to taking a break from soccer and enjoying some time with my future wife and then, next year, I will be back working harder than ever to create more opportunities in the MLS.”