Sounders forward Clint Dempsey has been suspended for three Major League Soccer games and fined an undisclosed amount for his “conduct” at Starfire Stadium on Tuesday night, when he snatched and then ripped up the referee’s notebook in Seattle’s 3-1 U.S. Open Cup loss to Portland.
Further punishment could still come in the form of an Open Cup ban, with a decision from U.S. Soccer to come next week after it ceded the rest of the authority to MLS on Friday morning.
“Per the U.S. Soccer Policy Manual,” the federation’s release read, “any incident of alleged Referee Assault or Abuse by a professional player during a Professional League Member activity is governed by the Professional Leagues Policy Against Referee Assault as outlined in Policy 202(1)(H)-2.
“In this instance, MLS has jurisdiction and is reviewing the incident as required by U.S. Soccer policy.”
The league added the following explanation: “While the incident took place outside MLS league play, alleged actions by an MLS player against a referee during any club competition is adjudicated and disciplined by the professional league. In this case, MLS had jurisdiction to review the incident and levy sanctions.”
Compounding the damage was the groin injury suffered by forward Obafemi Martins in Tuesday night’s match. Martins could miss between three and six weeks, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said Thursday, meaning the team will be without both halves of its designated player partnership at least through the D.C. United match at CenturyLink Field on July 3.
Dempsey and Martins have combined for 14 of Seattle’s 23 goals so far this season. The only bit of silver lining for the Sounders? Their absences come during perhaps the most forgiving stretch of this year’s MLS schedule - only five of their next seven matches come against opponents currently occupying playoff spots.
The timing of the ban does mean that Dempsey will return from his ban from participating in “any soccer competition” in time for next month’s Gold Cup.
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