During the 2017 season, few people, if any, will have watched more minutes of action across the North American soccer leagues than PRO’s Doug Bruce.
A video analyst within PRO’s Performance and Analysis Department, Bruce’s job involves reviewing hours of footage each week to feedback to the roster of officials, assisting their continued development and progression.
“Anybody within the organization who is looking for footage will come to me,” Bruce explained of his role. “It can be for a variety of reasons, but when I’m watching games, I’m highlighting lots of aspects and continually compiling reports.
“I’m watching the games for tactical purposes, for educational reasons and picking out factors that are likely to be key for the officials regarding their performance in the upcoming weeks.
“Especially now, at the start of the season, our officials will come to me and look at certain aspects of games or of their performance that they want to work on, and I will pick them out as I watch the games, rather than have to go back through hours of MLS footage to find something that fits that perspective later on.
“The earlier we can produce a database of those topics for the officials, the better. They can have them available at their fingertips throughout the season with the right planning. The match officials are now heading into games knowing a lot more about the teams than they did a year ago.”
After a year of integrating the advantages of the technology last time out, Bruce – who previously worked in English soccer for Middlesbrough, while they were in the Premier League, and Cardiff City – knows that taking PRO’s video analysis to the next level, one that will most benefit the officials, is his main objective in 2018.
As part of that process, he’s looking at adding to what is made available to center officials and ARs. To avoid an overload of information, he is keeping some aspects the same and stripping down unnecessary information.
“I had a lot of feedback from officials during 2017 about how useful the analysis has been for their preparation so we will be making alterations based on that. We’re incorporating a lot more data sources this year from companies that work in event data. This will enable us to enhance what we did last season and be able to pull a higher quality clip more quickly, for instance, offside calls for assistant referees.
“We work within a range of a meter, so if the last attacker and second-last defender are within that distance it is classified as an ‘offside situation.’
“We will compile all the previous ‘offside situations’ from a team both when they are attacking and defending from their recent games and that is going to be important.
“Also, we are working on getting more information from individual players, key players, and what they do in certain situations. Line-ups will also be analyzed so we can try and better predict who will be playing and all of this will allow referees to have more in-depth knowledge.
“That is a big thing for me. Having gone from nothing to something, it’s about taking that something and making it even better for the coming season.”