Tonight in DC, I watched a match with a referee with which I was not previously familiar, Jorge Gonzalez, in the center. He had a howler. Just unbelievably bad. Well, to be fair, he did reasonably well for a little while, but then seemed to lose complete control, frantically making calls that made no sense to anyone, whether they were spectators favoring either team, TV commentators, whoever. I don't think his calls seemed to favor one team or the other; but his refereeing was so bad that it made the game not fun to watch, and arguably endangered the safety of the players involved, from both teams. Well, sometimes referees have bad matches. It happens, even with very good referees. But it seems to happen in MLS with incredible frequency. It's rare that a week passes in MLS without there being at least one match whose outcome hinged on a bad call by a referee. What I don't understand is why this should still be so at this stage. The league is in its 12th season. Many of the referees routinely getting assignments in the league now have a tremendous amount of high-level experience, while more recent league refs in principle have had the chance both to learn from the experience of their peers and to accelerate their development through the challenge of occasional league assignments (compared to development pre-1996). Yet I watch recordings of old matches and new matches, and it doesn't seem to have made any difference. Time passes, some faces have gone and new ones have come, but the overall quality of refereeing in the league never seems to get any better at all. In fact, compared to four or five years ago, I'm not sure it hasn't gotten worse. Why in the world would this be? I'm mildly uncomfortable asking this here, because I'm afraid it may seem like I'm asking referees to call out other referees (which is not what I'm looking for). But I suspect that replies in this forum, whether explanatory ("here's why things haven't changed...") or critical ("your premise is wrong; the referee pool is much better now, and here's proof..."), will be on point; while if I posted this query in e.g. MLS News & Analysis, the thread would probably tend more towards ref-bashing and not really deal with the question.