Looking up the words "soccer" and "father" in both Dictionary. com and Merriam Webster, I found that the phonetic transcriptions for these two and other similar words contain different vowels to represent-- I gather-- the same (American English) sound (short o) depending on which of the two dictionaries you use:
Soccer: \ˈsä-kər\ Father: \ˈfä-thər\
Soccer: /ˈsɒk ər/ Father: /ˈfɑ ðər/
It is kind of confusing to see three different symbols referring to one or two sounds. So what's the difference in the pronunciation of /ä/, /ɒ/, and /ɑ/ (if there's one)?
Which of these symbols can I use to accurately represent the American English pronunciation of the two aforementioned words and others sharing the same vowel sound?