Better Know a Ref

Better know a ref: Drew Fischer

The last time Canadian FIFA referee Drew Fischer oversaw a game between Portland and RSL, Nat Borchers scored at the death for the full 3 points.

Sorry eh

Sorry eh

The Calgarian is just 36, but already at the top of his game, having earning his FIFA badge in 2015, one of just three FIFA refs in the Maple Leaf State along with Dave Gantar and Mathieu Bourdeau. He oversaw the Canadian Championship in back to back years, 2012 and 2013. Drew was the 4th official when Michael Bradley led his AS Roma side to a 3-1 trouncing of the MLS All Stars. A professional ref since 2007, his first match between Seattle and Montreal (F’em all) in the USL days for both of those teams.

Since 2011 he’s been between angry head coaches on the sideline 32 times, and since 2012 racked up 61 games with the whistle in his hand. That might sound impressive, but it would put him in the bottom third of our “PRO pool” in terms of assignments. Perhaps that’s not all due to quality, since Fischer has a full time day job as lead physicist at an air quality monitoring firm, and he’s stated that refereeing is a “hobby“. Let’s hope he treats the game against RSL with the same exacting eye he approaches his numerical modeling, and not just something fun to do on the weekend.

His career hasn’t been littered with controversy, as some of our bewhistled friends’ are, notably he performed the rarely seen PK call reversal in 2013. Checking his source material, like a good scientist.


But enough about Drew Fischer, let’s talk about his numbers. On to the STATS!


When our beloved Portland Timbers Football Club have had Drew Fischer as the head referee, 4-3-2 (WLT), first seeing him in a 2-2 tie at Dick’s in Colorado in 2013. The only red he’s issued in a PTFC game was when he gave back to back yellows to Marvin Chavez, in an odd sequence of events in a game vs. SJE in 2013.

Drew Fischer has only handed out 7 red cards, but has seen fit to point to the spot 17 times. The penalty rate is pretty good, a bit higher than average, but no where near Unkel level. The red rate is insanely low. Up until this year he was handing out cards at a rate of about once every 20 matches. He was far and away the least harsh ref in MLS. This year he’s upped his game into a more normal range, handing out 4 reds (2 in one game) over the course of 12 matches. A red every third game is a pretty normal rate, maybe a touch high, but that double red comes into play.


He’s pretty average in terms of his fouls and yellows per game, but it’s worth noting that in 2015 nobody was quicker to pull out the first card of the game than Drew Fischer, averaging just 22 minutes to put someone into the book. The next closest ref in that regard is an average of 29 minutes, against a league average of 34 mins. To be honest, this combination of the early card, and a low total card count makes me think he doesn’t mind making decisions early, but tends to control the game. That being said, he didn’t get many games in 2015 so it may be a sample size thing more than his firm but fair Canadian nature. Taking a look at the total card count shows this lack of games, handing out the second fewest number in 2015 among the PRO pool.


Looking at his percentages, he’s in the bottom third in terms of late cards. Again, he gets his cards in early and controls the game, unlike Unkel Ted. Man that guy is strange. Only 20% of Drew Fischer’s cards were the 4th or more in the game, so we can reasonably expect to see the game finish with 22 players.


That doesn’t mean Drew Fischer is afraid of blowing the whistle. No, he’s firmly average in that regard. Looking at his fouls histogram you can see he doesn’t mind calling a lot of fouls if that’s what the game dictates, 4 times blowing the whistle more than 35 times.


In the yellow department, we see that tight grouping near the lower side. In only about 1/4 of his games has he had to show more than 3 yellow cards, and on three occasions has seen fit not pull the book out of his pocket even once!


As mentioned, he rarely issues a red card. Amazing stuff. Canadiens are too nice? I’ll have to look into this more. He’s another one of our PRO refs that falls into the category of issuing about twice as many penalties as reds, pointing to the spot about once every three games.


And finally, everybody’s favorite metric, his foul to yellow ratio. Of course he’s on the low side here, but not terribly far off.



So what is a normal game for Drew Fischer? The most common outcome is a game free of sendings off, or spot kicks, but filled with an above average 29 fouls, and a fairly normal 3 yellow cards.


It’s been awhile since we’ve welcomed a new referee into the friendly confines of our home park in our victory lap season (won cup, don’t care), and I know everyone is going to dressed up all dapper like in honor of our gaffer and spirit animal Caleb Porter, so hopefully we can all have a nice time together. If Drew Fischer blows a call, maybe we should insinuate that he be put down like so many moose, maybe we should just accept his apology when he says sorry, eh?

Until next time, now you better know this referee.

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