It has been a productive campaign for Peruvian-born referee José Carlos Rivero, who has taken charge of a personal best 22 MLS games, including a Knockout Round Playoff as well as last month’s USL Final between Louisville City and Swope Park Rangers.
His achievements on the pitch have also been bolstered from the sidelines, having been named as the Fourth Official for the 2017 MLS All-Star game, which saw Real Madrid travel to Chicago to take on the best the league has to offer.
“I felt immense gratitude and excitement,” Rivero revealed, reflecting on November’s USL Final at Louisville Slugger Field. “I have to say that when I was assigned to lead the teams in the final, it was a great feeling and it was a personal accomplishment for me. After all, hard work really pays off.
“A fortnight before, I refereed an MLS playoff between Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes, which required us, as officials, to be at our optimum condition both physically and mentally.
“This helped me be ready for the USL Final. My preparation was in accordance with the level of the match, which made it a little different — I had to analyze the emotions of the players and the importance of the game.”
The final, which was won for Louisville by Cameron Lancaster’s 88th-minute header, went off without a hitch for Rivero and his team, despite having no choice but to show a red card to Niall McCabe in the eighth minute of injury time.
For the 36-year-old, the occasion capped what has been a memorable year, during which he feels his hard work was recognized and his goals were achieved.
“It’s been an amazing year for me. Consistency in every game was my goal, and I believe I achieved that, and the assignment for the All-Star game was a reward for my hard work.
“I continued working hard after that game to finish the season strongly. I felt a sense of reward and accomplishment when I was given the USL Final.
“The game went very well from an officiating point of view; it’s great when refereeing decisions don’t impact the outcome of the game.
“We were close by and alert to every single challenge. The atmosphere was unbelievable, and by the time we went to warm up, the stadium was already 90 percent full — it was a night I will never forget.”
His seventh term as an official has now come to an end, giving Rivero the chance to reflect on his most successful season yet.
But with refereeing running in his family, the desire to continually improve is strong, and he is already looking ahead to the next MLS season, which kicks off in March 2018.
“The off-season is finally here and now is the time for rest, and I will be dedicating my time to my family as they are my biggest supporters during the season,” he added.
“I’ll be analyzing my games from the season, looking to work on the things I was given feedback on throughout 2017, and I’ll be resting to get as much energy back as possible so that I can start preseason ready to work even harder than this year.”