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MLS VP on Osvaldo Alonso’s tackle, and on retroactive suspensions

Apr 4, 2012, 11:08 AM EDT

March 14, 2012

Following up on Major League Soccer’s four suspensions yesterday:

Three retroactive suspensions issued by MLS were for violent or dangerous actions, one was for embellishment. Meanwhile, there was concern in some corners over one moment, Osvaldo Alonso’s tackle on San Jose’s Rafael Baca, in which retroactive action was declined.

I spoke this morning to MLS executive vice president of competition and game operations Nelson Rodriguez about it.

The quick background: one of the five members of Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee, or someone else within the league on particularly busy match days, monitors every contest and then submits fouls or actions that warrant further review.

To recommend a retroactive suspension, all five members of the committee must agree that the action meets criteria for a red card.

In the case of Alonso’s 59th minute foul, where he comes in late on Baca and steps on the Earthquake midfielder’s ankle in a dangerous way:

Personally, I saw this as close, but not rising to the level of three other fouls that did warrant suspension from the disciplinary committee. Alonso was carrying a yellow already; should this one have been a second yellow? Perhaps. But that’s a different argument. The referee probably took that into consideration while considering a booking that would have left Seattle at 10 versus 11.

Back to the committee’s job: All five members must agree that a singular action deserves a red card in order to deserve a retroactive suspension.

Rodriguez noted a baseline rule here: “ ‘Reckless’ is red, ‘careless’ is yellow.”

“In this instance,” he said, “you could look at it as being careless as opposed to reckless. Or, at least, some member of the committee saw it that way, and the committee was not unanimous.”

Generally, Rodriguez said the committee has reacted assertively to a request from MLS teams and owners.

“Our owners and our competition committee charged the disciplinary committee this year with being more active in better ensuring player safety,” he told me. “This is a process, and this will continue to evolve.

“We believe that the committee has been fair and consistent so far. I’m sure that view is not shared by every team, and that’s the nature of things. But the message should be getting to players that they need to be more prudent in their challenges, and need to be more respectful of their brethren’s livelihoods.”

As I said in the earlier post, it’s a great move in a positive direction.

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