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Our first official MLS incident of “Mass Confrontation”

Mar 14, 2013, 1:10 PM EDT

NYRB mass

Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee has issued its verdicts for the week.

The “standard stuff” was Kenny Mansally’s one-game suspension and undisclosed fine for a (pretty lame, chest-aimed) head butt last week in Real Salt Lake’s loss to D.C. United.

Also in that match, frustrated RSL striker Alvaro Saborio blew his Costa Rican stack on referee Sorin Stoica. MLS will take a little money for that one; again, the fine was undisclosed.

But here’s the one that will have all the MLS wonks among us buzzing: the first disciplinary committee shame finger pointed toward “Mass Confrontation.”  (Aside: When I finally start my rock band, that’s what we’re calling it.)

(MORE: Mass confrontation is a complete embarrassment, and MLS is doing something about it)

From the league release: “… Sporting Kansas City were issued an official warning by the Disciplinary Committee ‘for a violation of the League’s mass confrontation policy’ in the 95th minute in their 2-1 loss against Toronto FC at Rogers Centre.”

The initiative to prevent these unbecoming little gang-ups is commendable and quite necessary, as Richard Farley spelled out in the PST piece linked above. But let’s not pretend that this isn’t tricky business. Somewhat subjective, too. And as we know, one man’s “subjective” can become another man’s “arbitrary” if MLS officials aren’t careful.

What’s worse, it could lead to cries of favoritism.

Here’s the incident that drew official league censure:

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Now, look at another potential bit of mass confrontation business on which the league’s disciplinary committee chose not to act. It looks quite similar to me, as New York Red Bulls players surround referee Ricardo Salazar. Perhaps this one is just a little less aggressive. You decide …

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