On Friday, the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) announced a lock out of the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) after the PSRA rejected a "no strike/no lockout" agreement with PRO. As a result, PRO said, replacement referees will take charge of MLS's opening-weekend matches.
“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,” said PRO general manager Peter Walton.
The eight head officials for the weekend MLS slate include four former or current FIFA referees, three former MLS officials, and a current NASL referee. Irish referee Alan Kelly (pictured above), who will be in the middle for Saturday's Seattle-Sporting KC match, previously refereed five FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Europe and three UEFA Champions League matches before moving to the United States in 2013. Abbey Okulaja, who will be in charge of Saturday's Vancouver-New York match, received the MLS Referee of the Year award in 2004.
These are the replacement officials assigned to MLS's opening weekend matches (head official listed first, followed by assistant referees):
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC, Saturday, 3 pm ET
Alan Kelly, former FIFA Ireland. Currently lives in the United States.
Dimitar Chadarav – MLS Reserve, NWSL
Kyle Longville – MLS Preseason
D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, Saturday, 7 pm ET
Andres Pfefferkorn – NASL Referee, MLS Preseason
Yevgeniy Mednikov – USL PRO
Stefan McHardy – MLS Preseason
FC Dallas vs. Montreal Impact, Saturday, 7 pm ET
Jorge Luna – Former MLS official (4th)
Luis Guardia – Open Cup
Pedro Trejo – International, NASL
Vancouver Whitecaps vs New York Red Bulls, Saturday, 7:30 pm ET
Abbey Okulaja – Former MLS Referee
Brandon Major – MLS Preseason, MLS Reserve, Open Cup
Eric Weisbrod – USL PRO
Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution, Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
Ramon Hernandez – Former MLS Referee
Isreal Fernandez – MLS Preseason
Marcos de Oliveira – MLS Preseason, NASL
Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union, Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
Ioannis Stavridis – Former FIFA Greece. Currently lives in the United States.
Caleb Mendez – MLS Preseason, NASL
Andrew Bigelow – NASL, Open Cup
LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, Saturday, 10:30 pm ET
Javier Santos – Current FIFA Puerto Rico
Jairo Morales – Current FIFA Puerto Rico
Jose Da Silva – MLS Preseason, NASL
Chivas USA vs. Chicago Fire, Sunday, 3 pm ET
William Anderson – Current FIFA Puerto Rico
Jair Morales – Current FIFA Puerto Rico
Jose da Silva – MLS Preseason, NASL