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MLS Disciplinary Committee has a big decision ahead regarding Seattle’s Clint Dempsey

Oct 22, 2013, 9:25 PM EDT

Clint Dempsey AP

Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee is in a bit of a pickle. It’s about Clint Dempsey and an incident in Saturday’s match against FC Dallas, one televised nationally on NBC.

Watch the first-half incident (below), where Dallas’ Peter Luccin earns a yellow card for tripping Dempsey. But then watch as the Sounders’ U.S. international kicks his opponent from the ground.’s Simon Borg, on his excellent, weekly review of the iffy, the dodgy and the controversial among MLS refereeing decisions, said it deserved a straight red. I’m not quite as certain, but it’s certainly worth talking about.

When it comes to retaliatory kick-outs just like this one, I always go back to the most famous of reds. David Beckham (back when he was just David Beckham, and not “global soccer icon David Beckham) was famously thrown out against Argentina. In a World Cup elimination match, no less, at World Cup France ’98. And his kick-out packed less menace than Dempsey’s.

Here’s that one, in case you haven’t seen it.



Back to Major League Soccer’s Disciplinary Committee, and to its impending pickle:

For me, this probably isn’t enough to issue a retroactive red. But there is something there, enough to be considered. And the DC appears to be in a “can’t-win” situation on this one.

If they suspend Dempsey, mark that down as “huge blow” to Seattle in a match they are desperate to win, preferring not to go hang-dogged into the playoffs on a seven-game winless skid. Plus, as we talked about yesterday, teams are fairly desperate to avoid those fourth- and fifth-place positions.

(MORE: Why teams are desperate to dodge fourth- and fifth-place)

Seattle already has depleted attacking forces, and Dempsey’s absence would pour more injury woe into CenturyLink Field.

On the other hand, if the DC passes on issuing action here, there will surely be cries of favoritism, an “unseemly lean toward the one of the league’s favored sons and toward the league’s highest-paid man,” that kind of stuff. It’s a tough one.

Here’s the moment in question:


  1. perrinbar - Oct 22, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    Should have been a yellow at the time to me. Can’t say it is a red.

  2. mdac1012 - Oct 22, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Looked like CD let his frustrations with the state of the team and his temper get to him. I agree with perrinbar, a yellow was deserved but it wasn’t enough for a red.

  3. jucam1 - Oct 22, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    He seems really frustrated. He was a mid level player at his height and is an ok one at best now in the MLS. He needs to relax and enjoy his last good years with a quality organization, next year Seattle should be ok.

  4. hildezero - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    XD I have a feeling that he’s not gonna get suspended, because he’s American and he’s a high profile player. Oh! And because he plays for Seattle of course.

  5. dfstell - Oct 23, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    Honestly…..that should have been a red card. I don’t really know why people would think it’s a yellow unless they’re Seattle fans. He was obviously upset about the foul (which was pretty bad as the guy just chopped him down), but to just aimlessly kick out at the guy is a red card. If he had been smart, he’d have gotten up and made a hard, yellow card type foul of his own in retaliation. You know, something where he was nominally going for the ball, but fouled the guy.

    This incident showed that at that moment, he was so upset that he was just going to kick the other player. He didn’t even aim the kick, he just flung his foot out there to make contact with any part of the other player’s body. That’s unsafe….and that’s why it should have been a red card.

    The problem is that it looks like a player who is angry and who isn’t thinking about what he’s doing and that’s why he could hurt someone.

    The DC needs to suspend him.

  6. wyrm1 - Oct 23, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    I think it probably should have been a red, but the ref was looking right at it and gave a yellow (star player, didn’t think it was red, whatever….). I don’t really see that there is anything for the DC to look at. The DC should be assessing penalties for things that refs either didn’t see, or horribly mishandled. While I don’t agree with the yellow here, I don’t think it was horribly mishandled. The ref made a judgement call, and I think that has to be respected if it isn’t ridiculously bad, and honestly this call probably wasn’t in the worst 5 this week in MLS (most of which happened in Dallas….)

  7. geojock - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I cant see how everyone is so sure a this is a red, suspension, etc. To me since it was one continuous motion as he was tangled up and falling, it opens up plenty of reasonable doubt. I mean he could have been still trying to play the ball or trying to kick his leg for out from under him. It is a totally different story if he had already been on the ground stop or getting up and then kicking. I personally think he did intend to kick the guy, but think there is too much potential for doubt there for the league to come out with anything too harsh.

  8. mlsconvert88888 - Oct 23, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    For me, by the laws of the game, it’s a soft red but I wouldn’t really lose sleep if the DC doesn’t suspend him. Anybody who’s making a case that Dempsey was still trying to play the ball is only kidding themselves, though.

    Regardless of which way you think it should be called, you gotta admit that once again the perception of this matter isn’t helped by the fact that the league shelled out 9 million of their own money for this one particular player.

  9. hildezero - Oct 23, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Why would a soccer league shell out nine million dollars of their own money to buy and bring back a player and just award it to Seattle like nothing? Check yourself.

    • mlsconvert88888 - Oct 23, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      What am I checking? I’m honestly not sure what your point is.

      My point is if a League deems a certain player to have a high enough profile that it warrants them assisting his purchase to the tune of 9 million dollars, and then that same players commits a infraction that many feel is worthy of a suspension and he isn’t suspended, then there will be plenty of people who can now say, “Well he wasn’t suspended because the league has a conflict of interest and wants to keep the player they subsidized on the field.”

      If the league just makes a team pay their own players’ transfer fee, than that never comes up.

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