Wednesday, October 25, 2006

You Can't Get What You Want - Unless You Cry to MLS

I have been drawn to my computer this morning after dusting off the soapbox to state my utmost displeasure with the news that our distinguished midfielder, Shalrie Joseph, has been suspended by MLS for the upcoming Saturday night playoff match for his actions during Game 1 at Chicago. You may be wondering "what actions?" You, my friend, are not alone in asking that very question.

The incident which provoked this laughable response stems from foul called on Joseph during Sunday's match, in which the Fire player Ivan Guerrero, a man of limited height at 5' 7" (and well within easy reach of an errant elbow to the face, to this observer), was pressing against Joseph for the ball, to which Joseph inadvertently brushed said player with his elbow. The referee (who was about to call a foul on Guerrero, in fact) allowed play to continue. For all intents and purposes, the case should be closed.

Well, it seems this action infuriated the Fire manager Dave "Cry baby" Sarachan enough to turn this into a federal case and have the MLS review the incident. MLS responded in kind with its inifinite wisdom that Mr. Joseph be banned from participating in Saturday's critical playoff match for his actions, leaving the Revs without one of their best players at their disposal.

Justice? Look no further than the facts surrounding the circumstances to form your own conclusions. Joseph, listed at 6' 3" in the Revs media guide, and the player covering him in the aformentioned scenario, Guerrero, is listed at 5' 7". A careful review of the play will ultimately lead unbiased eyes to form one conclusion: it wasn't malicious, but rather, accidental. No card was issued to Joseph on the play - the referee allowed play to continue, in fact. And with that, the window for any possible actions or measures taken on this one play should have been shut tight, locked, with shade pulled over.

Apparently, the MLS doesn't subscribe to the theory of backing its own officials. No, the MLS is beyond this petty theory because it issued Joseph a suspension on a play to which not only the referee had a clear view on, but a play to which was immediately addressed by said referee by allowing play to continue. The debate for this play should have ended right then and there.

But it didn't. Because, as we all know, there will always be a conosseuir of sour grapes lurking whenever competition is involved, and our obligatory sour grape aficionado is one Dave Sarachan. Mr. Sarachan obviously subscribes to the theory of getting what one wants. And to his credit, MLS is sypathetic to his cry, since Mr. Sarachan is also the force behind the 2-game suspension (later reduced to one game) of our hip-hoppin', you don't stoppin' Clint Dempsey, who must have ruffled a few feathers in Chicago during his July 8 match vs. the Fire. Water under the bridge, one may say. But one must also look toward this recent history to recognize the truth of the "once is an aberration, twice is a trend..." proverb in pertinence to this situation.

And it's one thing to have a bitter coach kicking and screaming like an oft-picked on, pig-tailed schoolgirl, but for the league to cater to this nonsense is ridiculous. How a governing body can be so easily swayed by the rants and raves of one coach, time after time, is an utter joke. The farce that is the MLS has become so enamored with this coach's vehement protest of such non-calls that it fails to see the unfairness in its distribution of its own heavy-handed suspensions and fines. The MLS, for all intents and purposes, with its appease-the-crybaby attitude in circumstances such as these, has become the pacifier to the collective babe's (see: Dave Sarachan) mouth. Instead of backing its own on-field officials (and thus upholding the integrity of their calls), MLS instead undermines its own referees, leaving the validity of the calls made by the on field officials to be put into question.

Let me make this very clear: I am for American soccer, and I am thankful we have a professional league stateside to showcase some of the country's best soccer talents. I am not only for the Revs, but for the United, Galaxy, all the other clubs that participate in this league (the Fire...not so much) because I want soccer to succeed here. But I am NOT for the way in which this league operates and self-governs, as well as the lack of discretion it displays when reprimanding its best talent. That's not for me to say that Shalrie and Deuce should be given free passes on blatant fouls - by all means, fine/suspend them when necessary, so long as the 1. the punishment fits the crime, and 2. such fines and suspensions are levied evenly across the spectrum.

The league should be a showcase of its own cultivated talent. Instead, it has become a tyrannical body that doles out punishments arbitrarily to some of its best talents and falls to its knees at the whim of one disgruntled manager. It should be no wonder that stars like Dempsey wish to take their game overseas, to a much more respectable venue where they can further their soccer careers without the fear an ever-bending and spineless federation dispensing backroom justice.

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