Clint Dempsey said it was an accident. Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee wasn’t buying it, and as a result, the Sounders will be without their best player for two games.
The Seattle Sounders midfielder was suspended two games Friday and fined an undisclosed amount for violent conduct towards Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom. Dempsey appealed the suspension and lost, meaning the Sounders will be without Dempsey for Sunday’s game in Montreal, as well as their home game against Columbus the following week. Dempsey will be eligible to return to action for Seattle’s April 5 game in Portland.
Dempsey’s suspension is for hitting Bloom below the belt in the 42nd minute of an eventual 2-1 Toronto victory. Dempsey said following the game that the low-blow was accidental, offering this explanation: “I felt a hand on my back, tried to hit it away. I thought I was hitting his hand away. I understand that maybe I did catch him a little bit, I apologized to him about that. All I was trying to do was swipe his had from my back.”
The league’s disciplinary committee, however, apparently didn’t believe that explanation and denied Dempsey’s appeal. Under a new rule that went in place this year, actions deemed violent conduct by the disciplinary committee come with a minimum two-game suspension, so suspending Dempsey one game wasn’t an option.
“Obviously we’re going to miss him,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s an important part of our team and I think our fans can see how much he helped us in terms of possession last week. It is what it is, so we have to deal with it. It just means it’s an opportunity for somebody else.”
Earlier in the week, Schmid said he hoped the league would consider the amount of fouls Dempsey had received when dolling out discipline—Dempsey was fouled six times in Saturday’s loss—but that apparently didn’t weigh in the disciplinary committee’s decision.
U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann expressed his disappoint in the league’s decision, noting that Dempsey’s infraction came after several fouls that could have contributed to his frustration.
“It’s very disappointing to see Clint be the only person punished from this game (against TFC),” Klinsmann told SoccerbyIves.net. “There is a foul against him in the sixth minute that should have been a red card. The persistent fouling continued throughout the game, and he’s getting punished for a reaction following all those fouls. Yes he made a mistake, but if opponents don’t get penalized for consistently fouling, it only encourages them to continue that approach.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.