In most AYSO regions the three-person Diagonal System of
Control (DSC) is a
luxury. It requires three certified referees and most regions just don't have
enough referees to have this luxury. So, most games are covered by a single
referee and possibly some club linespersons.
A few years ago, I read an article by... Giovanni Piazza, former USSF National
Referee and National Referee and National Instructor with the Italian Federation,
regarding how to referee a game without the help of qualified Assistant
Referees. His method is based on what is taught in Italy plus the result of his
25 years of applying those teachings at all levels of play. We call the system
the One Person Diagonal (OPD).
At first, I thought the system sounded nuts but one day I decided to try it out
and was immediately converted. I asked him for permission to pass on his
thoughts to AYSO referees and he agreed.
The following are positioning guidelines he suggests plus a couple of my own
ideas. Key points to remember when using the OPD:
1. When the ball crosses the half way line, be on the same side
of that half of the field (left or right) as the ball. If you find yourself on
the wrong side, cut
across. Anticipate and do everything you can to be on the correct side of the
2. Run downfield ahead of the ball, paying equal attention to the ball and the
"offside line." Stay
as wide as possible and get as deep into the attacking half as possible. How
deep? If possession is
being contested, stay closer to play than to the offside line. If the attacker
is moving ahead with
no problem, get closer to the offside line. In either case, width is the key.
You are on the same
side of the field as the ball, so as Piazza says, "Go wide, wider, and widest."
3. Establish an imaginary line 25-30 yards from the goal line as your reference
point. If the ball
goes straight downfield, go with it. If the ball crosses over to the other side
of the field before
reaching your reference point, you go, too. Sprint toward the opposite corner
flag and don't stop
until you've gotten wide and close to the offside line. Only execute one of
crossovers per attack or else your tongue will be hanging out. If the ball
crosses back, let it go,
but come in toward the center of the field in order to be closer to play.
4. Once the ball reaches your reference point do not cross over during active
play. As in the
situation above, pinch in toward the center of the field while maintaining the
5. On any throw-in or free kick, if you are not on the same side of the field as
the ball, get over
there if you possibly can. This is a key point.
6. Like real estate, the key with the OPD is "Location, location, location." Stay wide and keeping moving forward.
7. On corner kicks, Piazza recommends the far post-at the
intersection of the goal line and goal area line.
8. Don't waste time over-analyzing offside situations. If you think a player is
offside, blow the
whistle. In the OPD it's best to make the decision...
NOW. You have no neutral,
qualified AR to help
you or give you a late signal when something unusual happens. But if you are
executing the OPD
correctly, you will be amazed at how often you are in exactly the right spot to
make a difficult
9. A real late-crossover may be necessary if the ball is deep in the attacking
zone way over on the
other side of the field. If the quality of play is not highly competitive (key
point) and there is
an opening, sprint across the top of the penalty area to
get over to the other side.
There are a couple of other things to remember:
First of all, in games where the skill level is low, there is much aimless kicking of the ball, and constant
changes of possession in midfield, so the OPD might prove difficult. You could
find yourself doing a lot of wind sprints by attempting to be on the proper side
of the field and staying ahead of play. Adjust as needed.
Secondly, there are many times when a counter-intuitive or uncomfortable action
is best. Point #6 above says to keep moving deep and wide. I found that in
situations where previously I would have stopped and assessed the action, if I
forced myself to move deeper and stay wide, I almost always found myself in a
better position to call subsequent play.
I also discovered a worthwhile side effect of the OPD. In dull games and
blow-outs, concentrating on your positioning helps to keep you in the game. It
forces a level of concentration that is often lost in those games where your
mind might wander.
The OPD cannot cover a game as well as the DSC. You simply
cannot always be in the best position to see everything. However, if you follow
the few simple rules above, you'll be able to do the best job possible.
Try it, you'll like it!
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