Major League Soccer will kick off the 2014 season with replacement referees while the league's usual referees are locked out thanks to a pay dispute. The Portland Timbers will be affected by this just like everyone else.
The referee slated for tomorrow's season opener was Ricardo Salazar, a referee who has officiated over a number of Timbers matches over the years, including the Timbers 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in 2013. Instead the Timbers will be getting Iounnis Stavridis, best known for his days refereeing the Greek Super League.
Salazar, 41, has refereed 209 matches in his career as a FIFA ref; Stavridis has refereed 39. Salazar has refereed 9 international friendlies and two World Cup qualifying matchs; Stavridis has refereed one international friendly and a Europa League qualifier between Buducnost Podgorica of Montenegro and KSP Polonia Warszawa of Poland.
You may recall Salazar from this moment:
While Stavridis is remembered for this moment (thank @themikedonovan for finding this; start at 1:20):
After practice today, Caleb Porter was asked about how the replacement referees would affect the match tomorrow. He declined to give an answer.
It is what it is. I focus on what I can control, so I am not thinking about it twice.
In the 2013 season the Timbers were the 5th most fouled team in MLS and Darlington Nagbe was the league's most fouled player. While it is hard to say how the new referees will affect the quality of play, it is hard to imagine that the Timbers' possession based attack would not be disrupted by a referee that lets fouls go or their remarkable run-of-play defense would not be fouled up by an overzealous ref that gives up a few too many free kicks.
How do you think that the match tomorrow will be affected by the replacement refs?