Through two games, the Sounders have suffered 50 fouls, a full 13 more than the next most hacked team, Portland. That’s enough to anger a player. A player like Clint Dempsey, for example.
After a series of fouls in the first half of last weekend’s match against Toronto, including a fairly malicious, probably red-card-worthy tackle by TFC midfielder Jackson in the sixth minute, Dempsey took out his frustrations on defender Mark Bloom’s man-region (that’s a medical term).
The result was a two-game suspension.
Sounders fans are – justifiably, I think – more than a bit peeved by this. Let me offer an explanation of why.
The replacement ref in that game was clearly out of his depth. Almost from the opening minute it was obvious that TFC was going to implement the increasingly popular hack-a-DP approach to playing the Sounders.
Where were the fouls? The cards? Heck, even some simple warnings?
I suppose it’s fair to criticize the increasingly hot-headed Dempsey for losing his wits, but come on – the dude is human and frustrated by the continued pummeling, which dates all the way back to his coming to MLS last summer.
Was a two-game suspension warranted? If the new league policy is two games for violence, then yes, it probably was. I had thought that perhaps the disciplinary committee might go easier on players during the games officiated by replacements but … nope.
All we can hope for, really, is consistency going forward. Lay out the rules in a clear fashion. Apply them fairly to all. Please? (A side note: Jackson’s dead-ball elbow of Davy Arnaud in this weekend’s TFC-DC United match will be a good test of the committee’s consistency.)
Where does this leave the team vs. Montreal (and Columbus at home next week)? They’re certainly used to playing without an ideal XI, and maybe this is a chance for Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle to renew their chemistry. Oba’s certainly lacked touches after a stellar preseason. Maybe Kenny Cooper will get back on the pitch after sitting for the start against TFC. Those aren’t unappealing possibilities.
We’ll have to wait an extra day to find out, as apparently Montreal built a domed stadium that can’t handle a bit of snow.
(image courtesy of Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)