Better Know a Ref

Better Know a Referee: Robert Sibiga

I wanna be the ambassador to Chimichanga Flavor Town

Hey everybody, how was the (loooong) offseason? Is everyone rested and ready to keep steamrolling through the competition like it’s an odd year? We’re going to win the west, no THE SHIELD! And the USOC! And MLS CUP, AGAIN! Ok, ok, maybe that’s a stretch… I’ll settle for 2 of the 3. Balls in your court PTFC.

So what the heck is going on? Word on the street is that McG got a jobby job job and shed his curious love of referees to the wayside. Well, in between vacillating between saving and destroying the world with my new lazers, I do still have time to fantasize of the perfectly refereed MLS game. A game we may never see. With that understanding, and the fact that I ran the well almost as dry as worldwide underground freshwater reserves, I at least had the good sense to stop the race to the bottom and take a break from BKAR.

But this week we have a new ref! One that’s not part of the core PRO pool. A mysterious new challenger has approached from the East, set to ruin our fun with non-calls, ticky-tack fouls, missed penalties, and basically every other possible thing that could be done to tilts the odds in the favor of our enemy.


His name is Robert Sibiga. 

Well Bob here isn’t the crying type, but he is dedicated to his craft. After a shortlived career in Poland, ended with an ACL injury, he got the refereeing bug.

It wasn’t until 2008 that he began his journey down the path towards his eventual home, MLS and PRO, and he was already 33. Maybe a midlife crisis pushed him into the career change, but with the support of his family, it’s a change that has stuck.

“I sat with my wife and decided to give myself three years to focus 100% on my refereeing,” he explained.  “I would go to every tournament possible.  I’d knock on doors, make phone calls, do whatever it takes to get experience.”

That perseverance paid off. Robert Sibiga clawed his way up the soccer referee ranks in America, first in Pennsylvania, then onto the Dallas Cup, youth tournaments galore, The Disney Showcase, finally he was invited to US Soccer’s Platinum Program in 2012 (seriously these names are absurd).

In 2013 he got his invite from PRO, sitting between the benches 13 times as a 4th official, and showed well enough to get 22 games in that spot in 2014. 2015, and he made his debut Crew vs Galaxy, one for the ages… actually it was fairly forgettable, but he had his in. Getting only a handful of games in the middle in 2015, Robert Sibiga persevered and was rewarded handsomely in 2016, with 19 games. That’s basically tier 1 ref frequency of assignment. Someone at PRO likes what he’s doing.


Now, onto the STATS! (fair warning, there’s not many of them)

What’s an average game look like for Mr. Sabiga? Well honestly he stacks up pretty decently. The top 20 refs in MLS call 25 fouls per game, pull 3.5 yellows, and issue a red about every third game. Robert here calls 23 fouls per game, hands out 3 yellow, and issues a red about every third game.

He’s also one of those funny refs that likes to call penalties at the same rate he gives reds.


And now, back by popular request, specifically by Jeremiah O’Sullivan, the super scientific foul/yellow ratio chart


Below you’ll find some histograms, but they’re not really that interesting with only about 20 games to draw data from, but hey, the graphs make themselves at this point.





















Have fun out there in Philly y’all, don’t be afraid to get into a chant-off, and watch out for Bill Murray.

Until next time!

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