Where's Jair?

Hello again and welcome to our new weekly feature entitled "Where's Jair?"

Well OK, so I really have no intention of ever even mentioning it again, but I had pretty much forgotten about this miserable excuse for a soccer official - AKA "MLS Referee of the Year 2008" - when I saw his name in the summary for the Jamaica-Haiti match held at Lockhart Stadium last week.

True to form, Marrufo sent off Jamaica's Captain, veteran Center Back Claude Davis (Derby County, PNE, etc.) on 45 minutes after a "controversial" call (which I note but not having actually seen it I can't argue the point one way or the other) and Jamaica struggled to salvage a draw against a decidedly unfancied (well aren't we just the footie-lingo king this morning?) Haiti side.

Which in and of itself isn't particularly notable, but it reminded me that I hadn't seen his name in an MLS recap since he ejected noted thug Gino Padula (a starting fullback who had committed exactly one foul in the first eight games of the season) and later accepted Mr. White's token of gratitude.

That match, hard on the heels of the DC match where a phantom handball in the box coupled with his refusal to blow the whistle when two players went down with open, bleeding head wounds, seems to have been the last straw.

And indeed it appears that Marrufo's one week non-suspension to "collect his thoughts", which then turned into a two week suspension now appears to have become something more: since that fateful April 25 match he has not blown a whistle for MLS.

Which of course is extremely telling, considering that Marrufo is not only the reigning RotY but is also one of four "Full Time Referees" in the USSF/MLS stable, meaning that a cost/benefit analysis would surely show a lack of return on the investment.

What's more, he may have been joined in the Paul Tamberino/Brian Hall doghouse by our good friend Tim "White Cane" Weyland who hasn't received an MLS assignment since the May 10 Seattle/Galaxy game, a Lusitania-Hindenburg caliber disaster where he blew 27 fouls, handed out 8 yellows and a ridiculous red while totally ignoring a savage felony committed by Dema Kovalenko in the area and so totally losing control of the match that it almost featured the league's first on-field riot.

..and where it wasn't only Sigi who openly expressed an opinion of Weyland's performance:

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umStv-FF7QY"]YouTube - Boo Tim Weyland[/ame]

(I don't know who looks more nervous: Weyland or the old guy in the uniform whose job it apparently is going to be to fight off an attack.)

And of course it was Weyland about whom "Crazy John" Carver was speaking when he referred to the officiating in the TFC/Dallas match as having been "a disgrace", beginning a chain of events which ended with Carver's resignation.

I understand (and will likely be corrected) that there is a list of 21 referees who are eligible to work MLS games. It is beginning to appear that the list has been unofficially contracted to 19.

Of course it's still early, and either or both could still make an appearance, but here's one vote for making it permanent.

It's not so much that these guys are terrible - though it's hard to argue otherwise based on this season's performances - but in a very real sense they have become symbols for one of MLS' biggest shortcomings: the quality, or lack thereof, of the officiating.

Commissioner Garber understands that MLS has a serious problem with how the officiating is perceived. He keeps saying the right things to let the fans know that they consider it a serious problem.

But actions, as they say, speak louder than words and sending either of these clowns out there again this season would demonstrate - fairly or not - that they don't actually intend to do anything much about it beyond adding additional layers of mentors and evaluators and all of that, an approach which has, so far, born little apparent fruit.

The league can do itself a real favor by showing the fans that demonstrated incompetence has consequences.

Redemption is a wonderful thing, but respect for the game and the perception of competence is far more important.