PRO Q&A: Favorite games
In the second part of our look back at the live Q&A we held on YouTube last month, Drew Fischer, Ted Unkel, Katy Nesbitt, Corey Rockwell, Alan Kelly, joined PRO Director of Senior Match Officials Mark Geiger for the show.
Kicking off what will become a new feature, we look back at another highlight question from the session.
What is the favorite game you have ever officiated?
Katy Nesbitt: Mine is my first World Cup game; nothing ever beats that feeling you get when you have finally accomplished everything you’ve worked for. Not only that, it was the calmest, but most nervous I’ve ever felt at the same time, which is an extraordinary, unbelievable feeling if I had to describe it. That game was so much fun, Norway versus Nigeria [June 2019] in the second day of games – it was a competitive match and just to see women’s soccer explode that much from the previous four years was really cool.
Drew Fischer: My favorite, for totally different reasons, was Week One last year in Colorado [Rapids versus Portland Timbers] in the snow, when Brian Poeschel [AR] nearly froze into an actual snowman. It was one of the most fun games I’ve had in years because it felt like all of us officials and the players were just trying to get through it and survive so we could all go home where it was warm.
Ted Unkel: We got to do the Madrid derby last year, which was more than just a friendly. It was the first time they had played outside of Spain, up at MetLife [Stadium], and finished with 10 goals, two penalties and two red cards. CJ Morgante had also brought two buddies along who had never been to a soccer game before, and they said they had witnessed the greatest thing they’d ever seen and wanted to go to every game thereafter. It was a special night, knowing how many eyes around the world were on that game, how many amazing players were on that field, and to be part of the talent out there was just awesome.
Alan Kelly: One of my proudest moments was not even as a referee, but being VAR on the U20 World Cup Final last year, which meant a lot for many different reasons. I don’t necessarily have a favorite; I’ve been privileged to referee some huge matches, but I’ll always remember my very first game. I did my referee’s beginner course and was told I wouldn’t have a game for a few weeks, but got a call two days later from a kids’ league fixture secretary back home [in Ireland] who needed a referee for 10AM the next morning. I completely shut down through sheer panic and dread that I had to go out and referee at such a short notice. The game finished 7-6 with 12 breakaways, a dodgy offside, loads of mistakes; you could put me in a stadium with 60,000 people and I would not be as nervous as I was refereeing that game.
Mark Geiger: I am also going to say my first World Cup match; it’s the pinnacle for any soccer player or referee in their career. As soon as the anthem played, we started taking our first steps out onto the field with Colombia and Greece behind us, and I had this overwhelming sense of emotion and, I could only chuckle to myself! I’m also very thankful I had Colombia versus England in the 2018 World Cup – the most difficult game I’ve had in my career, hands down. There were a lot of talking points that came out of it, but it’s an experience I’ll always look back on and be proud of.
Corey Rockwell: My favorite game was just this year; the last MLS game played between LAFC and Philadelphia Union. That’s why I miss not being on the field so much – it was 3-3, had amazing goals, a sold-out crowd, Chris Penso in the center on national TV, and no one was talking about the referees after the game. It was back and forth and felt like a playoff, and ending on such a high is really why I can’t wait to get back.
Read more: In case you missed our first feature, discussing when these officials first decided to aim for the highest level of the sport, please click here