In the 83rd minute of the New York Red Bulls match against Seattle Sounders on May 31, Osvaldo Alonso took a wild and ungainly hack at Felipe Martins. It looked a pretty textbook example of reckless and violent conduct, but referee Jose Carlos Rivero saw nothing wrong with it. He'd already whistled for a foul by Dane Richards on Alonso, and apparently reasoned that was sufficient pretext for the Sounders to kick whomever they might like.
And Sigi Schmid subsequently argued that the game's lopsided foul count was attributable to RBNY's tactics and identity as a team (the Red Bulls were whistled 19 times; the Sounders only conceded nine fouls). Maybe Sigi should have kept his mouth shut.
When you're gifted an indulgent referee who lets your key midfield battler kick opponents without punishment (a yellow card would have seen Alonso out of the game, as he had already been cautioned; a red card would not have been unwarranted), it is perhaps prudent not to tempt fate by spinning an anomalous game into a fiction that doesn't hold up under scrutiny. His team was spared Alonso's ejection, and went on to snatch a win in the dying minutes of the match. How many favors to you want from this league, Sigi?
Unconscionable smugness and lack of self-awareness might have been the reason the MLS Disciplinary Committee moved so swiftly to review Alonso's kick and determine it was a matter worthy of suspension. The Sounders will have to do without their hard man for their trip to Kansas City on June 6.
We here at Once A Metro are quick to chastise DisCo when it lacks the gumption to do its duty. RBNY's Chris Duvall can attest to the inconsistent and therefore largely impotent nature of the league's disciplinary policies.
But DisCo got it right this time. It might seem peculiar to congratulate a group of soccer experts for spotting a textbook example of egregious foul play and acting on it, but this is the same committee that thought stamping and shoving Duvall was totally cool.
Seems DisCo has had another glance at the rule book since then, and that is to be applauded. Well done, DisCo. Now if you can have a word with the referees (Alan Kelly & Mr. Rivero) who seem inclined to let violence against RBNY players pass without comment during games, then you'll really win our admiration.