“All-Star game my highest honor,” says Grajeda
Hilario Grajeda has labelled Wednesday’s MLS All Star game as the highest honor of his career to date.
The 46-year-old has been assigned to referee the match between the league’s All Stars and Italian giants AS Roma at Sporting Park, Kansas City, and he is looking forward to the occasion.
“I was delighted and speechless that [PRO General Manager] Peter Walton called me and asked if I would officiate the MLS All Star match,” Grajeda told proreferees.com.
“It is huge in American mentality. For me this is the highest honor of my career to date. It is nice that Peter thinks I’m of the quality to do it.
“It is a game that usually goes to referees such as Mark Geiger, Jair Marrufo, Baldomero Toledo, Ricardo Salazar. For me to be classified with the same group as them, I’m humbled.”
Assisting Grajeda at the game will be ARs Paul Scott and Bill Dittmar, and 4th Official Drew Fischer.
Grajeda has worked with both Scott and Dittmar previously, and believes that will help when it comes to preparing for, and refereeing, the big assignment.
“I work with Bill Dittmar and Paul Scott quite frequently, and I feel very comfortable working with them. They know what I like and what I don’t like.
“As for Drew Fischer, this is going to be the first time I’ve worked with him. I know him from the camps and I like his personality. He’s very calm.
“Also, I know Drew’s integrity because of a penalty decision a couple of weeks ago when he was calm and worked with his AR to come to the right decision. I like the fact he took his time to think about a decision, it may have looked a little weird at the time but it was the right call.”
Grajeda has officiated several MLS Play-Off games – including last season’s Western Conference semi-final first-leg clash between Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake – and was 4th Official for the last two MLS Cup Finals.
With his latest honor just around the corner, Grajeda is now focusing on progressing and ascending further up the officiating ranks with every future PRO match that comes his way.
“I asked myself when I first walked in to the center as a professional referee, whether I ever expected to be there and I thought to myself, ‘I’ve come a long way since my first under 9s girls match’.
“But I don’t want to stop here, I want to continue and progress further.”