EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The US Youth National League EDP Conferences Spring Showcases will put a spotlight not only on top players, but will also focus on referee performance.

Eight current and former FIFA and MLS referees will make an appearance at these EDP showcase events.

In an effort to enhance the standard of officiating throughout the region, EDP is bringing in eight current and former FIFA and MLS referees to evaluate and mentor the performance of referees at the upcoming US Youth Soccer National League EDP Conferences Spring Showcases.

In addition, these world-class mentors also will offer three instructional sessions for referees throughout the showcase events. These instructional sessions are open to all referees in attendance.

These US Youth National League EDP Conferences Spring Showcase events are to be held for:

Under-15 through U-19 Girls April 13-14 and for U-15-U-19 Boys April 27-28. Both will take place at Tuckahoe Turf Farms in Hammonton, N.J.

“Some of the nation’s brightest young players will take the field to display their talent at our upcoming US Youth National League EDP Conferences Spring Showcases and this program will ensure that our officials are there to do the same,” EDP CEO Alan Shilling said. “With some of the most experienced and qualified referee mentors in the country in attendance, this is a unique opportunity for referees to learn from the best.”

According to EDP referee administrator Scott Ashcroft, not only referees will see a benefit from the program, players and coaches will as well. “Just as players improve with practice and coaching, the more practice and coaching we provide for our referees, the better they will get,” he said. “Without a doubt, this is an educational investment into the future of these referees that will ultimately improve the standard of refereeing across all EDP events.”

“This is an exciting development for EDP and highlights the organization’s commitment to providing the best possible development environment for all players within EDP programming,” Ashcroft added.

Mentors will include some familiar names to those who watch MLS, international matches and top college games — such as Ali Saheli. Saheli, an MLS official since the league’s inception, has officiated games in the past featuring European giants such as Manchester United.

“EDP has always been a gracious host and we are looking forward to returning to another outstanding event,” Saheli said. “The professionalism and quality of EDP Showcases provides us with lots of teachable moments that we can share with these up-and-coming referees.”

Other mentors will include:

* Richard Heron: Former MLS and professional indoor referee. Recently named US Youth Soccer Region IV referee chairperson.

* Bill Dittmar: MLS assistant referee 1996-2015; More than 200 MLS and top tier professional matches; 2013 MLS Cup and all-star game; NCAA college official for more than 1,100 college matches; selected to referee at the Men’s NCAA Final Four three times.

* Paul Rejer: Currently director of training and Education for the Professional Referees Organization (PRO); previously training and development manager for PRO, overseeing the training and development for the match officials who operate in the MLS; FIFA referee from 1979 to 2003.

* Jason Cullum: Named a USSF national referee in 2019.

* Michael Piercey: Named a USSF national referee in 2019.

* Scott Kachmarik: USSF National Referee; assistant MLS referee.

* Michael Salyers: Former MLS referee from 2007-2008.