Our Favorite ASA Articles of 2018 by Drew Olsen

During a recent American Soccer Analysis shareholders meeting in the penthouse suite of the swanky hotel we built in Minecraft (it’s our Slack channel), we discussed our favorite ASA articles of the past year. Because it is the season of listicles and we relish every chance to talk about ourselves, we decided to put them all together in one official post. Also, our site traffic is essentially zero at this time of year, so it seemed like an easy way for us to remember where we put them.

It was a great year for MLS (though perhaps not American soccer overall) and the most successful in our five year life as a website. We added interactive tables, introduced xPG, rebooted the podcast (new episode coming out soon! …probably), and added a lot of great new writers to our existing ranks of stale old writers. They’re not all represented in the list below, but special shout out to our weekly contributors who put together content every week - Little Things (@harrisonhamm21), Lowered Expectations (@harrison_crow), Expected Narratives (@ahandleforian), and Setting the Table (@ericwsoccer) - showed us the individual plays each week that made up the whole of the MLS season. We’d also like to extend a special thank you to Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post, for including us as a part of the WaPo’s incredible World Cup coverage.

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The World Cup Team Preview You Didn't Know You Needed: The Referees by McG

The spectacle of the World Cup is upon us once again. Story lines are already emerging, from Mo Salah’s shoulder and how it may drive the fate of his Pharoes, to the evergreen “will Messi finally win on the international stage?”, and of course whether or not the worst ranked host nation will manage to progress from what is statistically the easiest group in the modern era… But there’s myriad journalists and bloggers covering that already.

I’m here to talk about the inevitable villain of this most revered of tournaments, and no I’m not talking about Дядя Вова. No, of course I’m talking about referees who will emerge as the foulest characters of this world cup, unless Nigel De Jong comes out of retirement and files a one time switch. It’s doubtful referee scandals will etch themselves into the collective memory like Hugh Dallas in the minds of USA fans or Byron Moreno for Italians – though already this tournament has had a whiff of scandal as Saudi referee Fahad Al Mirdasi was suspended from the competition before the first kick after being caught in a match fixing scandal.

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MLS's Original (Dave) Gantars: A Look at MLS Officiating by McG

Referees in soccer are the most necessary evil in the game, we can all agree on that. Without a referee who would call the fouls? Can you imagine Will Johnson calling his own foul? Neither can I. What about Alvaro Saborio? Hahahaha, everything is a foul to that guy. Robot refs? Not likely for another few decades, but one can hope. No, today we all agree that referees are the worst, absolutely the vilest invention to curse our beautiful game, besides every other method of governing a game that has been attempted.

Now that we've all established how much we hate refs, let’s have a real conversation about officiating in MLS. The professional soccer referees association gave way to PRO in MLS in 2012 with legendary FA/FIFA ref Peter Walton leading the way. In actuality they have likely improved the quality of officiating in MLS. Just tune into their Snapchat channel to see the latest and greatest in training, testing, and qualification that North America has to offer. I won’t extol their virtues long, but realize that they are not just bumbling idiots, laughing their way to the proverbial bank with a wheelbarrow full of our emotional strain in tow.

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