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Referee lockout sees Ireland's Alan Kelly make his MLS debut

The Cork native took charge of Seattle Sounders’ win against Sporting Kansas City over the weekend.

Alan Kelly (file photo).
Alan Kelly (file photo).
Image: Mike Egerton

REPLACEMENT REFEREES OFFICIATED in the opening round of MLS fixtures over the weekend and fans of Irish football will have recognised a familiar face.

Back in January, former League of Ireland and UEFA whistleblower Alan Kelly moved to the US to take up his new role as assistant training and development manager with the Professional Referee Organisation (PRO) – the independent company charged with improved the refereeing standards.

In an interview with TheScore.ie last year, Cork native Kelly revealed that he was hoping to take charge of MLS games in the future but the opportunity arose much sooner than he would have expected when last week the PRO announced that a dispute would result in a lockout of the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA).

Along with seven other replacement referees, Kelly was sent to a training camp ahead of the season curtain-raiser.

“We have high confidence in the qualifications of our replacement officials and can ensure our fans, clubs and players that all games will be officiated at a professional standard that protects the integrity of our matches and the safety of our players,” PRO general manager Peter Walton said.

Saturday night saw Kelly take charge of an MLS game for the first time as Seattle Sounders hosted MLS Cup holders Sporting Kansas City in front of 39,240 present at CenturyLink Field.

Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Djimi Traore all lined out for the home side, who scored in injury-time to earn a 1-0 victory.

And according to reports, Kelly had a solid performance on US debut.

“I thought it was all right actually,” Sounders midfielder Brad Evans told the Seattle Times.

I was pleasantly surprised. A few tacky-tack fouls here and there, but he’s seen it all before. I thought a couple times he could’ve let advantage play, but no complaints on my end.”

“I thought (Kelly) did well,” added head coach Sigi Schmid. “I don’t have any complaints about how he handled his job.

“I think KC was happy about it, as well. I think they are just a team that commits something like 120 more fouls than we do in the season.”

Here are the highlights: 

Source: Major League Soccer/YouTube

 

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