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USSF Frowns on Water Breaks

In our continuing series about questionable MLS officiating decisions, the USSF takes issue with referee Jair Marrufo's bizarre water break midway through the first half of Houston's match with Real Salt Lake last weekend. (What is this, an under-11 league?)

"The referee incorrectly takes it upon himself to make a personal decision to stop the game to give the players the chance to get water. This is not permitted by the rules of competition and should not have taken place. The decision, which stops the game for approximately 1:24, takes away the rhythm and focus of the teams and creates visible frustration for players and coaches."

Everyone seemed shocked when Marrufo stopped the match. It was hot at Robertson Stadium (91 degrees at kickoff), but with the sun fading, not oppressive, according to the players and coaches.

For complete USSF analysis, a video clip and the rule regarding water breaks, click here.

By Steve Goff  |  June 26, 2009; 6:34 PM ET
Categories:  MLS , USSF  
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Next: Poll: USA-Brazil


Maybe the Aquafina delivery man gave him a jersey.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 26, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

He seems intent on completely ruining his chances of officiating in the World Cup. Has someone with such a high trajectory imploded like this before?

--Head injury mistake in the DC-LA match
--The Blanco jersey thing
--The water break

That's not even getting into bad calls. Those are horrific missteps by the only guy on the 2010 short list from the US. He should be out of the full-time ref program.

Posted by: beach3 | June 26, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

They took two water breaks in the Olympic mens finals last year, and it was probably hotter in Houston than in Beijing.

Plus Marrufo told Houston at the start that he was going to do it.

I don't see the big deal. I have seen may a game where a bunch of players cramping up late in the game takes up a lot more than 1:24.

Posted by: OWNTF | June 26, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Jair Marrufo is young, covers a lot of ground on the pitch, but has a few major flaws as described. One big flaw is that Marrufo hardly ever gives the attacking team a 'play on' incidental to a foul and he never gets the 10 yards right during a free kick. He rejects any and all appeals in such circumstances. Once, during an MLS game there was an indirect free kick just outside the 6-yard box and the defensive wall which should have been directed to the goal line was two yards forward of it and the keeper was in front of the wall while Marrufo refused to acknowledge the appeals of the kicker. He's not WC material.

Posted by: juke2 | June 26, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Jair Marrufo is an absolutely horrible ref. The water break was painful, and the sad thing is that it was only 1 of about 10 horrible decisions in the first half alone.

I am shocked this guy is still reffing, much less on the short list for WC duty. He needs to be sent down to college/USL to either practice or find a new hobby. And if the MLS doesn't suspend him for the next round of games or two then they hold equal blame.

The reffing in MLS in general has been horrible and has not been improving, and it is impacting the product on the field.

Posted by: stewmw | June 26, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

It is time to drop Marrufo a few games. Meanwhile USSF makes itself a fool continuously coming out with some form of criticism but never a action taken which makes them jack.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | June 26, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I didn't think it was necessary at the start, but I see this just like OWNTF.

Posted by: sitruc | June 26, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Where does it say that he told Houston that he was gonna do a break? Oh yeah, nowhere because thats a lie. And if you think the 91 degrees at kickoff, probably 85 by the time he took the break was any hotter than Beijing, you are smoking crack. Average temp in August in Beijing, during the day, 86. Oh thats so similar, but wait! those stadiums are more oppressive then Robertson because they had roofs and were enclosed on all sides.

OWNTF = Jair Maruffo fanboi

Posted by: ichigo_kurasaki | June 26, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

The captains brought it up as a joke. Maruffo thought they were serious and did it without telling the coaches. Or anyone else it seems.

"According to an RSL spokesman, during the captains' meeting prior to the game, Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman -- with tongue firmly planted in cheek -- made a comment along the lines of, "Jair, it's going to be hot tonight. Can we play 35-minute halves?" To which Marrufo suggested that maybe they should have a water break instead.

When the idea was communicated to Houston captain Richard Mulrooney, he thought Marrufo was kidding, saying "Great idea, let's have two." As it turned out, Marrufo was being serious ..."

IN the Olympics, it was done with consultation of doctors, the teams and FIFA. Jair just did it because he felt like it. Apples and oranges.

Posted by: beach3 | June 26, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

They also took a water break in the KC-Atlas game. The heat index there though was reported to be 107 degrees. It was definitely water-break worthy. Gomez had to sub off because he got dizzy, and fans were treated for heat exhaustion.

Posted by: szazzy | June 26, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

J. Marrufo, Sponsored by CamelBak.

Posted by: delantero | June 26, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

To me, Marrufo will always be the guy who gave two yellows to Brandon Prideaux but failed to send him off. That was the (in)famous G.R. Cannon game, IIRC.



Posted by: jayrockers | June 26, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm no Marrufo fan, but this is piling on. The ref also is responsible for player safety, i.e, lightening strikes, injuries, etc. If Marrufo honestly felt that the players needed hydration to protect their safety, that is the end of it. It's easy to sit in an air-conditioned office and determine that the "water break" was not justified. To all of those complaining, what would you say if a player went down with heat stroke? Marrufo's a callous jerk? Too easy to second guess, time to move on.

Posted by: griffin1108 | June 26, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I can get it, but I really was surprised, as was the Houston broadcast team.

Off topic, but exciting, FSC is replaying the 07 Gold Cup Final at 11 tonight

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 26, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a joke. This is the third time he has been reprimanded by USSF this season. Anyone heard of "three strikes and your out" 91 degrees is hot but it is not so bad that pros would need a water break. If this is the best ref the US has to offer than its no wonder the MNT is racking up red cards left and right. He needs to be taken out the rotation for centering MLS games, hands down.

Posted by: jjfooty | June 26, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

What does it take to FIRE this man?

Does a ref have to run naked through the press box? Light the mascot on fire? Accept a jersey from a player?

Oh, wait. ARGGGG.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 26, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

well, he'll be out of MLS for a couple of weeks because he is on the list of officials for the Gold Cup.

Did he add that 1:24 to the half? If so, then I don't see what the big deal necessarily is. I think he's a terrible referee, but this is the least of the mistakes he has made this season.

Posted by: fedssocr | June 27, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

He also screwed us in the game against LA with the TERRIBLE penalty call.

Posted by: redskinsux | June 27, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

i dont see anything wrong with the water break as long as the ball is given back to the team in possesion before the break. Hopefully he stopped the game on a goal kick hence no distraction to the game. The two yellows however is a terrible mistake, not sure why he is not reffing somewhere in alaska right now.

Posted by: g3impreza | June 27, 2009 7:14 AM | Report abuse

OT - for all you Freddy Adu fans out there, things are not looking up for him at Benfica. The Portuguese team just bought out of favor Argentine striker Javier Saviola from Real Madrid. Didn't see a transfer fee on this one. Adu needs to get realistic about his talent and move to a lower division league to get playing time (or come back to MLS).

Posted by: agoldhammer | June 27, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Professional athletes, and the referees that work their matches, are supposed to be conditioned to be able to play in high heat/humidity environments. I am not sure the blog equivalent of water-boarding him is the answer though, but the judgment mistakes are clearly mounting.

Posted by: MR1Caretaker | June 27, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Marrufo makes an ass of himself again? When are MLS and the USSF going to do something about this? This is the third time in half a season that the USSF has come out and publicly denounce Marrufo's on the job performance. Anyone else in the world would have been disciplined if not fired for such job performance. Why are referees any different?

Posted by: FAkeemail9875 | June 27, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Professional athletes make errors in judgment, and execution, all the time. Far more many than referees. Yet they are allowed to continue to play. For example, both Beckham (Euro 2004) and Lampard (CL final 2008) missed PKs in huge games. Will you be calling for their scalps with equal vigor? There are probably hundreds, if not more, games where this referee has performed well. While as a fan I don't like it when game critical mistakes are made (a water break is by no means game critical), mistakes by referees happen, and will continue to happen. It is part of the human experience.

Posted by: MR1Caretaker | June 27, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: MR1Caretaker | June 27, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

lol, mls refs are pants!

Posted by: dfunkt | June 27, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, how about we discontinue the DP rule and spend the money on luring some decent refs from abroad?

Posted by: alecw81 | June 27, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Why is this guy still a ref? Please, can we get rid of him?

Posted by: roadkit | June 28, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Professional athletes make errors in judgment, and execution, all the time. Far more many than referees. Yet they are allowed to continue to play.

Posted by: MR1Caretaker | June 27, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse


You're kidding, right? When a player doesn't get the job done he is benched or cut from the team. Oh must be a Red Bulls fan.

Posted by: FAkeemail9875 | June 28, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

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