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MLS Must Show Spine and Suspend Beckham

It’s finally come.  After a few years of dangerous tackles and public outbursts against officials, MLS finally has a very public example of poor behavior by David Beckham that will either lead to a suspension or a discrediting of league management.  Saturday night saw the best and worst of Beckham: his lovely free kick goal

… and his very public outburst at the end of the game.  The video below shows Beckham kicking the ball towards the official and refusing to leave the field during a post-game scrum, both offenses that can lead to suspensions (see a better version of the incident here).

Now before getting into my analysis I don’t anyone to take this post as saying Beckham’s a bad guy or a dirty player.  To be blunt, the guy’s had a crappy week.  Between losing out on his last chance to play international football at a competitive level and enduring an emotional, physical game against a local rival, temperatures were already boiling and some loss of cool not only should be expected, but I even feel for him at some level.  That said, it is the level of anger and frustration that is the aim of this post, not that he possessed it.

It also needs to be acknowledged that the end of the game was a debacle.  Referee Hilario Grajeda had lost control of this game for a while, and in my opinion Sam Cronin was engaging in a bit of time wasting (especially since he reacts so quickly to the kick).  However, such extenuating circumstances do not excuse Beckham’s actions (remember what your mother told you when your older sibling hit you?).  In addition to the admittedly well-placed kick at Cronin, Beckham then proceeds to come over to the scrum of players and begin jawing and provoking a fight on the field.  Again, he is not singularly at fault for this but he is certainly the catalyst for the ramping-up of the action.  As such, he needs to be held responsible for helping scar what turned out to be an incredibly good match.

So what should happen to Beckham? He has already earned a game’s suspension for yellow card accumulation.  MLS needs to add on three additional games this week.  This season alone, Brek Shea has been suspended three games for kicking the ball at an official and although seemingly Beckham aimed the kicked at Cronin it definitely hit the official as well.  Thus three games plus the automatic makes sense.  But what if MLS fails to act or to add a suspension in addition to the already one game?  MLS officials will never again be able to defend themselves against charges that they hold Beckham to a higher standard.

What happened on the field on Saturday night was an act of petulance, an action that embarrasses the league and turned a tense match into a spectacle.  If the league wants to show its fans that no one is above the law, then it absolutely must extend the suspension.  But what do you think?