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Crimes and misdemeanors: MLS hands Toronto’s Steven Caldwell one-game ban for tackle on Ned Grabavoy

Apr 2, 2014, 6:29 PM EST

What could Toronto’s Steven Caldwell have possibly been saying to Baldomero Toledo after this challenge? Is he  threatening to get Ned Grabavoy’s other leg? Because there’s no way he could be arguing that he didn’t deserve a yellow card. If anything, the TFC captain was lucky to stay on the field.

Major League Soccer’s Disciplinary Committee apparently agreed. With the only suspension (thus far) this week, the “DC” has handed the Reds’ best defender a one-game ban for this tackle on Grabavoy, a punishment that will force the former Premier League defender to miss this weekend’s trip to Columbus. Nick Hagglund, the 10th overall pick in this winter’s draft, will likely step in along side Doniel Henry as Toronto attempts to derail the Crew.

Caldwell’s tackle’s pretty straight forward. If the league is going to hand out retrospective punishment and doesn’t hit stuff like this, there’s no purpose to the Disciplinary Committee. It’s a pretty open-and-shut case.

The more interesting part of Caldwell’s play is where is fell within the context of Saturday’s game. As Real Salt Lake starting to control play in the first half, Toronto — frustrated by its 2-0 deficit — appeared to get more and more physical, seemingly targeting the likes of Javier Morales, Grabavoy, and others. In that context, Caldwell’s dangerous play appeared less of an aberration than a part of a greater trajectory, with the Reds resorting (perhaps unconsciously) to a rougher approach in an attempt to slow RSL down.

It didn’t work. Two goals from Álvaro Saborío bookending Luis Gil’s first half score sent Toronto to a 3-0 loss, with this weekend’s visit to still perfect Columbus threatening to send the Reds to their second defeat of the season.

The Disciplinary Committee also dinged Drew Moor, though the Colorado defender won’t miss any action. The center back was find an undisclosed amount for his hands to the face on Sporting’s Claudio Bieler.

  1. midtec2005 - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    If Grabavoy doesn’t leave his feet he has a broken leg. As someone who broke his leg exactly that way, I’m glad Caldwell got a suspension. That’s reckless at best and malicious at worse.

  2. talgrath - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    This definitely seems to be a pattern, for the last three games now Toronto has had a lot of physical, dangerous challenges; it’s amazing they haven’t been shown more cards.

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