It’s only fitting that the referee that oversaw the Seattle Sounders’ first game of the season will also oversee their final game of the season. That’s right, Alan Kelly has been named the center referee for the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 10.
BREAKING - #MLSCup Match Officials:— PRO (@PROreferees) November 29, 2016
REF: Alan Kelly
AR1: Frank Anderson
AR2: Joe Fletcher
4TH: Allen Chapman
5TH: Danny Thornberry pic.twitter.com/5T0ZD3J7Q6
The Irishman was named the MLS Referee of the Year in 2015 and 2016, and has experience in UEFA Champions League after starting his career in The League of Ireland.
MLS Cup Final will be the fifth time that the Sounders will have Kelly as the center referee. The previous four games were a mixed bag of results. Let’s take a look at how everything broke down with Kelly in charge.
The one thing you will all more than likely remember in the game against Sporting Kansas City was the red card that Kelly issued to Oniel Fisher in the 41st minute. Some of you will say it was the right call while other will say it wasn’t.
Kelly called a total of 28 fouls in that game with just nine coming against the Sounders. He issued two yellows, Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza in the 76th and 77th minute respectively and the aforementioned red card to Fisher.
The Sounders would see Kelly about two months later in their 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. Kelly called 18 fouls — eight against the Sounders — and issued one yellow card to Osvaldo Alonso in the 43rd minute.
At the end of June, Kelly was the man in the center for the Sounders 2-0 defeat at home against New York City FC. Kelly called a total of 24 fouls, and once again, the Sounders had the fewest called against them of the two teams with nine. He issued two yellows cards to Thomas McNamara and Andoni Iraola in the 42nd and 75th minute, respectively.
The last time the Sounders saw Kelly was on August 21 against the Portland Timbers. He called 22 fouls with eight of those coming against the Sounders. He was a little more active in issuing cards as he handed out four yellows — Andreas Ivanschitz (37’), Joevin Jones (40’), Diego Chara (42’) and Nicolás Lodeiro (84’).
Of the four matches, Realio gave him an average score of five. His highest score was a seven in the Earthquakes match. In the season-opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, he received a four as well as the game against the Timbers. In the loss to NYCFC, he was given a five. All you lovely readers out there gave him an average rating of 5.23 over the four games this season.
One thing of note and I’m sure it means absolutely nothing but every game that Kelly has officiated involving the Sounders has been at CenturyLink Field. Hopefully that is a good omen.
For the season, Kelly has officiated 23 games — the most off any center referee in 2016. He has called 550 fouls and issued 72 yellow cards and three reds.