By John Boyle Herald Writer
TUKWILA — Clint Dempsey’s low blow could make him a no-go for the Seattle Sounders’ next two games.
Dempsey, who has a goal and an assist in Seattle’s first two games, is facing a two-game suspension according to the Toronto Sun. Major League Soccer did not announce any disciplinary decisions Wednesday, and the Sun report doesn’t specify what Dempsey will be suspended for, but any discipline would likely have to do with an incident in which Dempsey struck Toronto FC’s Mark Bloom below the belt in Saturday’s game while jockeying for position on a free kick.
Dempsey said after Seattle’s 2-1 loss that the low-blow was an accident, explaining, “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.”
If Dempsey is indeed suspended two games, he would miss a game at Montreal on Saturday, and a home game against Columbus on March 29.
Asked about the reported suspension Wednesday, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said, “There’s nothing we can say officially at this stage, so we’ve got to wait until the league makes an announcement … We know that it’s being looked at, and they’re going to come to a decision here.”
An MLS spokesperson said via email that any decisions made by the league’s disciplinary committee would be announced today, but that if there is an appeal, the result of that appeal likely wouldn’t be announced until Friday. The Sounders would presumably appeal a two-game suspension of their best player for an incident he contends was accidental, which could make things tricky for them seeing as they fly today to Montreal. Schmid said they hope the situation will be resolved before the team leaves town today, though it appears that might not happen.
Schmid also said he hopes the league takes into the account not just that incident, but the amount of fouls committed against Dempsey in Saturday’s game and this season overall. Dempsey was fouled six times against Toronto, and the Sounders have been fouled a league-high 50 times in two games.
“Obviously if you’re missing a player like Clint, it’s an important piece of the puzzle for your team,” Schmid said. “At this stage, when you look at minutes played, he’s the most fouled player in the league, and our team is the most fouled team in the league. So hopefully that gets taken into account a little bit as well. He’s an important part of our team for sure.”
U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann in fact addressed the topic of Dempsey being fouled in a video distributed by U.S. Soccer Wednesday.
“Obviously we are a little bit worried about Clint Dempsey getting fouled I don’t how many times in this game against Toronto,” Klinsmann. “Your key players, in a certain way, you want them to be a little bit protected in a way that people can’t overdo it.
“What I saw there on the weekend, there were certain things not within the rules in any more. So I hope our players get protection because they need to be healthy going into this World Cup.”
Midfielder Brad Evans is improving, but his status remains uncertain due to a calf injury suffered in Saturday’s loss to Toronto. Evans, who has worn the captain’s arm band in both of Seattle’s games this season, left the game in the first half after suffering what was described as a muscle contusion, which resulted from being kicked in the calf.
“Brad’s doing better,” Schmid said. “He came an ran outside today, so we’ll see how he tolerated what he did today, and that will determine whether he goes on the trip.”