FC Dallas v Portland Timbers – MLS Cup Playoff, WC Final 2nd Leg



GB at 2015-11-30 01:24:33

I always say that a quality assessor is able to step back at the end of a game and look at the “whole picture” before making his judgement – which is what I must do now.


Ismail has clearly shown that he had the competence and temperament to merit his appointment to this fixture which was never going to be easy. I voiced my concerns that his tolerance level may have been a bit low for my liking at times, but at the end of the day he controlled this game perfectly! His style reminded me of my good friend Mark Halsey! He let a bit go, but as soon as the players crossed his line in the sand, he stepped up to the plate with a couple of yellow cards, then all of a sudden, the players knew that he meant business, which allowed him to safely close the game out.


So looking at the whole picture – I must say well done Ismail, and now RELAX – you did a good job!


Neither of the assistants put a foot wrong tonight either, so all-in-all the officials can feel fully satisfied with their contribution to this game in the sound knowledge that nobody will be talking about them when looking back at it.


GB at 2015-11-30 01:13:44

My final summary will follow in a few minutes.


I hope you have enjoyed this RefCam coverage and please keep your views coming on Twitter @youaretheref or email us at Info@you-are-the-ref.com


A list of all the big games coming up on YATR RefCam is always available at: http://you-are-the-ref.com/ref-cam/



GB at 2015-11-30 01:13:10

Full Time

FC Dallas 2 (3) v (5) 2 Portland Timbers

GB at 2015-11-30 01:11:47

GOAL! George Fochive (PT 26)

FC Dallas 2 (3) v (5) 2 Portland Timbers


GB at 2015-11-30 01:09:19

positioning can go out of the window now for the referee – just get as close as you can to it


GB at 2015-11-30 01:06:42

minimum of 5 added minutes


GB at 2015-11-30 01:06:14

the referee shown the strength of his stamina as he moves from one end to the other in the 89th minute!


GB at 2015-11-30 01:00:57

the referee continues to impress me with his positioning including the way he is so nimble when the play comes towards him and he backs away and does not get in the way


GB at 2015-11-30 00:57:19

Yellow CardKellyn Acosta (D 23)

Now the referee has to raise his profile and issue another yellow card for that reckless challenge. There could be more to come in this game yet


GB at 2015-11-30 00:53:14

14 minutes left for Dallas to get another goal and make it another very late night for me here in UK


GB at 2015-11-30 00:52:18

Commentators here in the UK are saying the free kick leading to the second Dallas goal was “soft” – not for me! The Portland player’s hand was raised into the Dallas player’s face and I was so pleased to see the yellow card. That was precisely the one which is the referee had not punished it would have opened the door for a free for all in the last 20 minutes


GB at 2015-11-30 00:49:55

GOAL!  Blas Pérez (D 7)

Dallas 2 (2) v (3) 1 Portland Timbers



GB at 2015-11-30 00:48:39

Yellow Card

Diego Chara (PT 21)



GB at 2015-11-30 00:48:11

the referee spotted a trip “off the ball” then, as he communicated to the players that they had the advantage – not even a word to the perpetrator then.


GB at 2015-11-30 00:45:32

GOAL! Ryan Hollingshead (D 12)


Could that be GAME ON I wonder


Dallas 1 (1) v (3) 1 Portland Timbers


GB at 2015-11-30 00:42:30

A referee should not need resort to yellow cards just to maintain control of a game, but at the same time if there are players who persistently infringe the laws out there or there are acts which amount to mandatory cautions, then the official needs to respond appropriately.

Its all very well showing how you can control a game without yellow cards but the danger is that the players will start behaving as if they feel that they can get away with anything.

24 fouls given so far and no yellows – what do you think?



GB at 2015-11-30 00:36:02

there we go – a clear sign of “no more” shown by the referee then – before he man-handled the player to his feet!


GB at 2015-11-30 00:33:30

Free kicks continue to come thick and fast this half and whilst not every foul should be a yellow card, there comes a point at which the referee could lose his credibility when the first yellow card come for something which has not received the same punishment earlier.


GB at 2015-11-30 00:32:20

Portland must surly have one foot in the MLS Cup Final now


GB at 2015-11-30 00:31:28

GOAL! Fanendo Adi (PT 9)

Dallas 0 (1) v (3) 1 Portland Timbers


GB at 2015-11-30 00:27:54

excellent refereeing then and Ismail was trying to play the advantage  but correctly brought the play back for the free kick which came to nothing – that was the type of foul challenge which broke up an attacking move which I felt needed the player to be singled out for though


GB at 2015-11-30 00:25:49

good example demonstrated by the referee of keeping a “trailing eye” on the players after that coming together in the centre which came to nothing and play continued


GB at 2015-11-30 00:24:16

Ismail has obviously come out for this second half determined not to let the game get away from him with those first two “safe” free kicks


GB at 2015-11-30 00:22:58

The referee has started the second half as he finished the first one with his view of that first careless challenge


GB at 2015-11-30 00:21:30

Portland Timbers get the second half underway


GB at 2015-11-30 00:16:29

What do you think of the referee’s performance so far? Contact meon Twitter @youaretheref or email us at Info@you-are-the-ref.com


GB at 2015-11-30 00:15:22

All the officials seem to be taking this game in their stride at the moment and have kept the lid on it without strangling it. The teams were always going to compete with passion with so much at stake, so the referee’s man-management skills were going to be important to ensure that he did not over-react as the challenges started going in. There has not really been a “bad” foul yet, but they have started to mount up, and whilst I think he has done well so far to keep his tinder dry, I would like to see him “set-up” one or two of the players with a clear public warning soon, before he resorted to disciplinary sanctions.


His tactics are working really well for him at the moment, but he needs to be aware of the need for consistency in how he deals with the fouls in this game, which I would not be at all surprised to see increasing in the second half.


His positioning and movement have been impressive – particularly his proximity in and around the penalty areas.


Good lining by both of his colleagues so far.


An early goal for Dallas at the start of the second half could really spark this one off.


GB at 2015-11-30 00:06:31

Here are a couple of links to articles posted on our web site this week which capture the diversity of what You Are The Ref is all about:


Ever wondered how an appeals panel works when clubs feel that disciplinary sanctions dissed out by the referee are unjustified? Well you can read all about the system implemented by the Catalan Football Federation in this intriguing article by Alex Griffiths in which Appeals Committee member James McKinnell lifts the lid on what goes on behind the scenes


Following the debate about the dangers of heading the ball which was opened in the USA a few weeks ago, You Are The Ref provides details of the full directives concerning players who suffer any kind of concussion in the English game Referees alerted to stricter guidelines on head injuries


Don’t forget to catch the Ref Show tomorrow night when all the major decisions from this weekend’s EPL games will be analysed by our team of experts. You can always catch up with all the previous editions her videos


All the other content on our site continues to provide a deep insight into refereeing matters with video features and Blogs with regular contributions from all around the world.


With such impressive content and access to top officials who are willing to give help and support, YATR followers know this is the place for all referees to improve their knowledge, understanding and performance.


The You Are The Ref Facebook page is also proving to be a great place to keep track on what’s new and is well work a “like” at  https://www.facebook.com/youaretheref


As always, YATR values your opinions on all the points raised by out experts via Twitter @youaretheref or email us at Info@you-are-the-ref.com


GB at 2015-11-30 00:05:45

Half Time

Dallas 0 (1) v (3) 0 Portland Timbers


GB at 2015-11-30 00:04:10

minimum of one added minute to be played


GB at 2015-11-30 00:02:43

nothing wrong with this referee’s fitness – he seems to glide over the grass with his long legs as the play switched from one end to the other


GB at 2015-11-30 00:01:27

plenty of commitment being shown by the players  – but this game needs a goal


GB at 2015-11-30 00:00:09

nothing wrong with that ball placement for the corner again – even though the part of the ball touch the ground was outside of the arc, there was some of the ball “lipping” over the line


GB at 2015-11-29 23:58:52

once again watch how this referee is prepared to press into the penalty area – even when the play is on his assistant’s side of the field of play


GB at 2015-11-29 23:56:54

one again the referee is trying to allow the play to continue as much as he can, but had to eventually blow his whistle for a foul to Portland as the player nearly had his shirt pulled off his back!


GB at 2015-11-29 23:54:47

another routine solid off-side flag by Sean Hurd


GB at 2015-11-29 23:54:08

The Dallas fans will be shouting for everything the longer the game goes on but Ismail looks unlikely to be swayed by them as he remains calm composed and in control so far


GB at 2015-11-29 23:52:48

I know I praised the referee’s body language just now and especially how he uses it to good effect with his signals, but I am not so impressed by the way he grabbed the Portland player then. Referees should really try not to touch players – no matter how big they are!


GB at 2015-11-29 23:50:55

great lining by Joe Fletcher – never off-side and the Dallas player should have scored


GB at 2015-11-29 23:49:38

as the fouls begin to mount up in this game I hope to see the referee pick out one or two of the players and start to “lay the law down” to them. That way he can demonstrate how to mange the tempo as it rises rather than just jump in with yellow cards sooner rather than later


GB at 2015-11-29 23:47:20

Sean Hurd seems to be tuned into the referee’s tolerance level and so was happy that no offence had been committed near to him then


GB at 2015-11-29 23:46:00

first off-side decision goes to Sean Hurd – easy to miss them right under your nose if you are not concentrating


GB at 2015-11-29 23:44:38

The difference in the intensity of the challenges in these play-offs has been stark compared to the regular season games I have blogged this season This is more like our own “play-off” games at the end of the English Football League season


GB at 2015-11-29 23:41:04

Ismail very close to be able to sell that decision as the attacking player leaned into his opponent


GB at 2015-11-29 23:39:20

good example then shown by the referee of how to use your whistle to make it “talk” – double peeps for the reposition of that throw-in before it was taken


GB at 2015-11-29 23:37:14

the referee just letting the players know that he saw that nudge by the Portland player – it is important to communicate such things to the players so that they do not think you have missed it


GB at 2015-11-29 23:35:10

for a big guy, this referee showing he can be nimble on his toes as well as he backed away from the players then


GB at 2015-11-29 23:34:09

Ismail doing well again to get into the position to judge those challenges in the Dallas penalty area


GB at 2015-11-29 23:32:27

With 3 fouls each in the opening 12 minutes I get the feeling that our referee may have a major part to play in this game. It certainty has not started like the type of game he can keep out of for very long


GB at 2015-11-29 23:30:17

Great opening 10 minutes which bode well for a really exciting game. All the play-off matches I have seen so far have been well competed


GB at 2015-11-29 23:27:52

I know it helps the referee’s body language when you look big and imposing, but it also shows up poor signals even more if they are not sharp and clean. Ismail’s signals are a pleasure to watch.


GB at 2015-11-29 23:25:58

That was a massive call for the referee who had to be up with play not to get that decision wrong on the edge of the Dallas penalty area


GB at 2015-11-29 23:25:00

There is certainly nothing wrong with this referee’s presence in this game already – brilliant decisive authoritarian decisions and signals


GB at 2015-11-29 23:23:38

Very early I know, but I must say I always like to see a referee who is prepared to penetrate the penalty area as Ismail has shown already


GB at 2015-11-29 23:22:28

Ismail quickly picking out the first foul which is always important


GB at 2015-11-29 23:21:41

that ball position was quite legal for the Dallas corner kick as just the edge of the ball was lapping the corner arc


GB at 2015-11-29 23:20:34

first corner and the grappling seemed to be at arms length!

GB at 2015-11-29 23:19:44

AR1: Sean Hurd (SH) is patrolling the touchline in front of the technical areas. Nearest to camera


GB at 2015-11-29 23:19:11

Timbers  Portland won the toss so it will be  FC Dallas to kick off.


Good luck to all the officials and may the ball run kindly for you!


Feel free to interact with me during the game by joining in on Twitter @youaretheref or e-mail at info@you-are-the-ref.com


GB at 2015-11-29 23:14:28

Not long to go now as the players line up for the Star Spangled Banner


GB at 2015-11-29 23:10:17

Every week, the USA Professional Referees Organisation’s  (PRO) Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer, selects an example from each round of fixtures to highlight best practice, or to offer specific educational advice to officials when situations could have been managed better or when application of law was found wanting.


The most recent educational piece concerns the importance of positioning for assistant referees to judge off-side incidents. The particular incident which is highlighted here Play of the Week: MLS Cup Playoffs – Offside Positioning  occurred in the last game which I blogged for RefCam, and I was quick at the time to point out that there had been a mistake made. I remember when I watched this incident for the first time that I wondered if the assistant may have thought that the last touch had been made by a defending player, but this excellent training piece proved beyond doubt that poor positioning led to the error in the flag not being raised.

If you spot something in tonight’s game which you feel would be worthy of a shout for the Play of the Week this week, contact me on Twitter @youaretheref or email us at Info@you-are-the-ref.com


GB at 2015-11-29 23:05:50

Rest of the Crew:


AR1: Sean Hurd (SH)

Sean made his debut in the MLS in 2006 and picked up his FIFA badge back in 2009. He is no stranger to the big occasions having been part of the Crew to represent the USA at the FIFA World Cup Finals in 2014. This will be Sean’s 12th assignment this season, giving him a grand total of 89 MSL games under his belt so far.


AR2: Joe Fletcher (JF)

Joe Fletcher completes a full house of FIFA officials on the line today. He made his debut in the MLS in 2007, which was the same year that he received his FIFA badge as well.  Joe also experienced the dizzy heights of the FIFA World Cup Finals in 2014 as part of the Crew that represented his homeland of Canada. This will be also be Joe’s 12th assignment this season, giving him a grand total of 74 MSL games under his belt so far.


4th Official: Mark Geiger (MG)

The vastly experienced Mark Geiger has the responsibility of maintaining order in the Technical areas for today’s game.



GB at 2015-11-29 23:04:42

Today’s officials are:

REF: Ismail Elfath (IE)

AR1: Sean Hurd (SH)

AR2: Joe Fletcher (JF)

4th Official: Mark Geiger (MG)


At 33 years old, Ismail is about to complete only his 4th straight season as an MSL Referee and has completed 61 games in the top flight in North America. This year he finished joint top for the amount of assignments received and obviously had an excellent season to merit this appointment.


Here are the referee’s statistics for his MLS games this season:

Games Fouls awarded Yellows Reds Ave Yellow Ave Reds
22 516 67 3 3.05 0.14



GB at 2015-11-29 23:03:00

Here are the starting line-ups for this game:

FC Dallas

FC Dallas

Jesse Gonzalez (D 44)

Victor Ulloa (D 8)

David Texeira (D 9)

Mauro Diaz (D 10)

Fabian Castillo (D 11)

Ryan Hollingshead (D 12)

Michael Barrios (D 21)

Kellyn Acosta (D 23)

Matt Hedges (D 24)

Walker Zimmerman (D 25)

Je-Vaughn Watson (D 27)


Dan Kennedy (D 1)

Ezequiel Cirigliano (D 5)

Blas Pérez (D 7)

Tesho Akindele (D 13)

Atiba Harris (D 14)

Zach Loyd (D 17)

Michel (D 31)


Portland Timers

Portland Timbers

Adam Kwarasey (PT 12)

Alvas Powell (PT 2)

Darlington Nagbe (PT 6)

Nat Borchers (PT 7)

Diego Valeri (PT 8)

Fanendo Adi (PT 9)

Dairon Asprilla (PT 11)

Jorge Villafaña (PT 19)

Diego Chara (PT 21)

Rodney Wallace (PT 22)

Norberto Paparatto (PT 23)


Will Johnson (PT 4)

Jack Jewsbury (PT 13)

Michael Nanchoff (PT 17)

Taylor Peay (PT 20)

George Fochive (PT 26)

Maximiliano Urruti (PT 37)

Jake Gleeson (PT 90)


GB at 2015-11-29 23:00:30

Here are the final positions for these two teams at the end of the Regular Season:

Final Western Conference Table

Pos Club Pld W L T Pts
1 FC Dallas 34 18 10 6 60
2 Portland Timbers 34 15 11 8 53


GB at 2015-11-29 22:57:37

FC Dallas may well have Home advantage, but they have really left themselves with a mountain to climb today to reach the MLS Cup Final, with the aggregate score standing at 3-1 to the Timbers following the first leg. On a positive note, they at least managed to post an away goal to their score sheet in last week which could prove vital to their cause. Dallas have not lost at Toyota Stadium since 15th August and finished the regular season with an MLS-best 13 home wins, so I am sure they have not given up hope yet of turning this one around.


If the aggregate score is tied after 90 minutes of play today, the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice. The only way this game can go into overtime is for FC Dallas to be winning 3 – 1 at the end of regular time today.  If that is the case, then two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals tiebreaker does not apply to overtime in the second leg.


Just like Dallas, the Portland Timbers can also point to a remarkable statistic to bolster their hopes of finishing off the job today, as they have not lost a road match since 30th August and finished the regular season tied for an MLS-best 7 away wins.


Either way something will have to give today and in this winner takes all encounter, which could turn out to be a real cracker to match all the other frenetic play-off games this season.


GB at 2015-11-29 22:56:05


Welcome to this live RefCam coverage of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, Western Conference Championship Final, Second Leg between FC Dallas and Portland Timbers to be played at Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas

Feel free to interact with me during the game by joining in on Twitter @youaretheref or e-mail at info@you-are-the-ref.com