Skip to content

While Major League Soccer green lights retroactive suspensions, critics are missing the point

Apr 11, 2012, 10:35 AM EST

Ricardo Salazar, Marvin Chavez, Tim Ream

Each time Major League Soccer announces a retroactive suspension, cries of injustice rise, claims of inconsistency reverberate through the internet and inchoate fears of bad precedent or undermining match officials clap like ominous thunder.

But people are missing the point.

All of this isn’t about making Shalrie Joseph sit out a match. It’s not about making Danny Cruz feel bad for unbecoming gamesmanship, and not about teaching Jair Benitez a lesson. Not exactly, anyway.

This is about making MLS players more aware and more responsible. It’s about player safety. And in the bigger picture, still, it’s an overdue course correction that will create better curb appeal through more watchable matches.

This is about restoring some balance to the place Major League Soccer falls along the continuum of restrain and self-control. On one end is a very technical league, where contact is minimal and “touch fouls” are whistled like Friday night social soccer; on the other end is a league that looks more like mud wrestling than soccer.

Most reasonable people would agree that MLS should land somewhere in the middle, not especially close to either end. What league owners have asked of the disciplinary committee and of its players and clubs is to adjust it toward the technical end.

There’s no question it had long ago migrated to far the other way, walking too frequently through the rough neighborhoods of the game.

As for the recent, retroactive suspensions: I understand the cry for consistency and public pressure to create it serves everyone well. But do know this: MLS won’t get it right 100 percent of the time. It’s a tough mark to hit, with lots of interpretation and situational context involved.

Still, trying to get there is the proper thing, a righteous stab at a course correction that was desperately needed. It’s worth getting it wrong here and there.

Get it wrong this way and someone sits out a match unfairly. Keep it the other way and more legs get broken, more players lose their careers to concussions.

By the way, does anybody think there wasn’t inconsistency before? Of course there was, outrageous degrees of it. But the previous inconsistency was the sole province of the man in the middle on match days.

Now, with time and license provided to the disciplinary committee to consider the evidence, the chances of creating consistency has risen dramatically.

In the end, the games will be better. The league will be better. The process won’t be perfect – but the status quo was maddeningly far from perfect, too.

Latest Posts
  1. Premier League Sunday preview: Big boys tangle ahead of League Cup final

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Howard rushed off his line to great effect in the first half to thwart Arsenal's offense. Getty Images

    Both sides of Merseyside are in action against a pair of Top Three contenders as the Premier League sends up two great appetizers.

  2. Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund and Bayern flying high with big goal performances

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:11 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Bundesliga AP

    Bayern made 577 more passes than its opponents. That’s bonkers.

  3. Has Southampton’s bubble burst? Top four challenge takes yet another hit

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:20 PM EST

    Koeman’s Saints have scored just once in their last five matches. Can they recover and remain in the top six?

  4. Report: England U-20/Man City U-21 defender loaned to New York City FC

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    http://www.mcfc.com/ http://www.mcfc.com/

    Facey, 20, was the captain of Man City’s highly-touted Elite Development Squad and had been on trial with NYCFC since early January.

  5. In-form Luis Suarez leads Barcelona to 3-1 win at Granada; La Liga, UCL beware? (video)

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:52 PM EST

    Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi AP

    With an edge on Man City in the UCL and second place to Real Madrid in La Liga, Barca has a chance to do big things if it continues to click.

  6. Manchester United’s two-goal hero Wayne Rooney hails “deserved win.” Should he stay up front?

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:33 PM EST

    With RVP out injured and Falcao firing blanks, surely Rooney should remain up front…

  7. Stoke City 1-0 Hull City: Super sub Crouch stays hot, nabs Potters point

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:10 PM EST

    b0f8e07f8546f054f178b35c8325c107 Getty Images

    The giant Englishman scored less than a minute after subbing on for Mame Diouf, and Stoke stayed in the top half.

  8. Burnley 0-1 Swansea City: Own goal, Fabianski foil Clarets at Turf Moor

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:03 PM EST

    Burnley v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    The three points moved Swansea ahead of West Ham for eight in the Premier League table.

  9. Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland: Rooney nets double to seal easy win

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:57 AM EST

    Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

    Rooney’s double sees off a stubborn Sunderland side to cement United’s spot in the top four.

  10. Newcastle United 1-0 Aston Villa: Cisse’s goal keeps Sherwood’s Villans in the drop zone

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:55 AM EST

    cd5e63930af01b2ae5ebb9355e08734b Getty Images

    Villa’s 22 points are even with Burnley and QPR, but their goal differential is the worst of the three.

  11. VIDEO: Allardyce “shocked” by West Ham’s two-goal loss to Crystal Palace

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:40 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-CRYSTAL PALACE Getty Images

    Mark the date as the moment Sam Allardyce’s long shot dreams of European football for West Ham all but died.

  12. WATCH: Aubameyang/Reus pull Batman/Robin celebration, then Reus makes a GK look silly

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:34 AM EST

    @Bundesliga @Bundesliga

    TheRevierderby was all Borussia Dortmund, which keeps climbing the Bundesliga table after a horrible start to the season.

  13. VIDEO: Alan Pardew delighted with two-goal hero Murray despite red card

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    Murray scores twice, gets red card in eventful outing at Upton Park.

  14. LIVE – Premier League, at the half: West Brom, Newcastle ahead; goalless elsewhere

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:55 AM EST

    Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Goals are in short supply. See if they arrive in the second half by watching live, here.

  15. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Hull City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:44 AM EST

    Hull City v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Sone Aluko and Gaston Ramirez move last week’s hero Dame N’Doye to the bench, as the Tigers look to put together a three-match winning streak.

  16. Watch Live: Burnley vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Danny Ings will lead the charge for Burnley, which has controversially non-suspended Ashley Barnes in the Starting XI.

  17. West Ham United 1-3 Crystal Palace: Eagles win fiery London derby

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Eagles soar past Hammers a Murray scores twice, gets red card.

  18. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:35 AM EST

    Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Emmanuel Riviere gets a start for Newcastle, with Ayoze Perez heading for the bench. Cancer-battler Jonas Gutierrez is back in the 18 as well.