MLS: League inquiring about two-referee system; Cienfuegos, Diaz Arce set to start this weekend

MLS Commissioner Douglas G. Logan announced March 23 on the league's weekly media teleconference call that MLS will investigate the use of a two-referee system during the 1999 season. "We have a letter that is scheduled to go out tomorrow to U.S. Soccer Executive Director/General Secretary Hank Steinbrecher that will inquire into using the two-referee system in Major League Soccer later this season," Logan said. "We think that it is appropriate to volunteer to be part of the experiment." MLS, along with all other Division I professional soccer leagues around the world, has used the standard allotment of one referee and two referee's assistants during the league's first three seasons. Following the decision of the International Football Association Board in February to experiment with a system of two referees (along with the two referee assistants), the FIFA Executive Committee invited the confederations to submit candidate countries in whose leagues such experiments could be put into practice. Contrary to previous experiments with the Rules of the Game, most of which have been carried out in FIFA youth tournaments, it is intended to conduct the two-referee trials in top leagues on all continents over an entire soccer season. FIFA currently plans to designate appropriate leagues before the start of their 1999/2000 seasons in July this year. However, MLS could potentially see the two-referee system take place during regular-season play later this summer. Cienfuegos, Diaz Arce scheduled to start this weekend Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos and San Jose Clash forward Raul Diaz Arce are scheduled to start for their respective teams this weekend. Both players did not participate with their club for the majority of preseason training while holding out to renegotiate their contracts; however, Cienfuegos and Diaz Arce returned to their teams last week and came on as second-half substitutes in their opening games. The two players and their representative continue to have discussions with Major League Soccer regarding their contracts with the league. "The fact that they have reported to training allows us to have constructive discussions to come to an agreement with both players," said MLS Executive Vice President of Player Relations and Operations Ivan Gazidis. "We are hopeful and optimistic we'll reach an agreement. We're interested in signing both players to long-term agreements." "Mauricio is an important part of our family, and I told him we want him to stay a part of our family until the end of his career and beyond," said Logan at a news conference with Cienfuegos at the Rose Bowl Saturday evening. "As two friends, I told him we will do everything in our power to make sure Mauricio finishes his career here."
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