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Clint Dempsey

Dempsey should get 3-month ban after ripping up ref’s notebook

So Tuesday night in their US Open Cup match against Portland, the Seattle Sounders were probably hard-done by a series of bad calls by a relatively inexperienced official. And certainly this tournament means a lot to the Sounders. Add the burn of losing to their Cascadian rival, and it was a pepper pot ready to boil over.

Then Clint Dempsey lost it.

Playing down two men (one by a sending off, the other via injury after exhausting their 3 subs), referee Daniel Radford had the gall to give Michael Azira his own trip to the showers. That was the end of that, as far as Dempsey was concerned. He proceeded to snatch Radford’s notebook from him and shred it like an unwatched two-year-old. Needless to say, Radford had his own red card for the US Men’s National Team captain.

That leaves the talking point to be the punishment. In this case, Radford definitely went too far in at least one case (Azira), but that’s no excuse for losing one’s decorum and disrespecting the official.

The rule book indicates a three-month suspension in all competitions. That seems like a harsh penalty, but the Federation must protect its officials.

In every sport I follow, putting your hands on an official (or his effects, i.e. picking up a flag in the NFL) is a no-no which can land you in a heap of trouble. Arguing borderline calls is often given some leeway, but there is still a level of respect that must be paid to those who are charged with keeping order.

That’s where Dempsey went wrong. To go light on him would be a mistake, though that seems to be a popular suggestion across those who cover MLS. There should be absolutely no tolerance given to a player who will make contact with a referee in a manner that conveys disrespect or the potential for violence.

Going soft in some suggestions I’ve heard would be limiting the punishment to US Open Cup matches. That’s ludicrous. He wouldn’t serve a minute of the suspension until 2016, effectively allowing him to keep on playing even after acting infantile and unhinged.


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Maybe the Sounders got screwed on Tuesday, maybe not. That doesn’t give any license to treating the referee in such a fashion. People make mistakes, and a team that has won multiple Open Cups (including last year no less) should show more class and respect for the tournament.

If USSF does suspend Dempsey in all competitions for three months, it would sideline him for the Gold Cup, as well as much of the team’s remaining MLS campaign. The Sounders lead MLS in points right now – that might change without Dempsey. But he would be back in time for the stretch run as well as the playoffs.

Is that harsh? Maybe. But it’s the right call, and USSF needs to show that their own procedural rules mean the same for all.


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  1. Flyvanescence

    June 19, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Rant continued:

    Not to mention, in said Cup tournament, they schedule games midweek during international breaks, appoint crap officials and do almost zero promotion for. USSF is a total joke! But yet i keep hearing all this BS about how we have to stand up for change in FIFA blah blah blah. Clean your own house before you preach about cleaning the whole town!

    All right, MLS bots. come at me. I cant wait for to be called a Eurosnob because i care about American soccer enough to call for change and improvement.

    • jtm371

      June 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Mickey Mouse league Mickey Mouse Commissioner and no balls to set down one of your stars for blatant disregard of the rules. What a freaking joke bring it mls fanatics your league is a joke. You think John Doe does the same thing he only gets 3 games no way.

      USSF=FIFA both corrupt and bankrupt.

      • Flyvanescence

        June 19, 2015 at 8:13 pm

        Honestly once i heard that it was MLS deciding the punishment i expected exactly this outcome. NFL does the same. Of course they will protect their product.

        What BURNS ME UP is that USSF deferred the decision to the MLS when the game in which the incident occurred was not even an MLS game. Its ludicrous. It’s called a “governing body” for a reason!!! All USSF does is collect paychecks. Its a puppet of SUM. Gulati “works” for free (or at least until recently did) as USSF president. Guess who actually pays/paid him?

        • jtm371

          June 19, 2015 at 9:00 pm

          When you don’t defend your tenets of the Association you have no rules. When that happens you might as well throw the rule book out because you have no rules. It only cements the feelings of a weak USSF and the mls only looks at bottom line. Travesty miscarriage of justice. Just remember rules for stars and rules for scrubs.

  2. Flyvanescence

    June 19, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    This just in: MLS has given him a three-game ban.

    Yep you read that right: our useless, nonexistent USSF doesnt even likely have a disciplinary committee to deal with these type of things, so they let MLS, who had nothing to do with the game other than the teams playing in it, make the call. Which by the way it would be unprofitable for the league to suspend its marquee star. WHICH IS WHY AN INDEPENDENT GOVERNING BODY IS SO IMPORTANT.

    WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE, AMERICAN SOCCER FANS??? OUR OWN FEDERATION, whos job is to GOVERN THE GAME IN THE USA, doesnt bother to have the means to deal with a major disciplinary debacle IN ITS OWN NATIONAL CUP TOURNAMENT!!! This is appalling and utterly unacceptable, and somebody needs to call them out on this.

  3. Yespage

    June 19, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Seems like three months is a bit long for ripping a notebook. He should have at least done something else to make it worth it.

  4. Americano & Proud

    June 19, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Clint should be suspended from the Gold Cup team, since that is really the only matches being played by the US in the next three months. He still has something to offer for the national team going forward but this behavior is unacceptable. Also I’d like to see Bradley retain the captaincy going forward.

  5. StellaWasAlwaysDown

    June 19, 2015 at 11:07 am

    3 month ban, or as rich sports stars call it, vacation.

  6. Kei

    June 19, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Should Clint be suspended three months? Based on the interpretation of the rules, yes.

    Will he be suspended three months? I highly doubt it. He’s too valuable for both MLS and the USSF from the marketing and competitive standpoints. They won’t dare hang one of their golden eggs out to dry, no matter how absurd his behavior may be.

  7. Trip

    June 19, 2015 at 8:04 am

    How would they get around not giving him a 3 month band? The rule states “The person committing the referee assault must be suspended as follows:
    (a) for a minor or slight touching of the referee or the referee’s uniform or personal property, at least
    3 months from the time of the assault;”

  8. Yespage

    June 18, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    They were playing Portland? Where? At a local high school?

    • David

      June 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      The game was played at Starfire Sports Complex. I have no idea why they played there.

      • Americano & Proud

        June 19, 2015 at 2:11 pm

        They play US Open cup matches there because normally attendance is very low to justify the operating costs of keeping CenturyLink open.

        However, they probably could have made an exception this time since I’m sure you could get around 20K for any match against Portland.

  9. Jessica

    June 18, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Three months is too harsh. I say maybe a month and give the ref a three month suspension. Referees should be held to high standards too. Referees hold the most power in sports and if I recall an nba ref once was involved in match fixing. Not saying this ref did that, though all incidents like this by referees should be investigated too.

    • jtm371

      June 18, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Two wrongs don’t make it right. I agree the Ref lost the plot but Clint went way beyond civil decorum. If this was a nobody there would be no discussion 3 months period. Clint must sit.

  10. Flyvanescence

    June 18, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Might be a good thing. Force Klinsi to use the young bucks up front that tore up Holland and Germany.

    • Joe

      June 19, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Ya thats smart becasuse a veteran presence with three world cups under his belt would not be needed….

      • jtm371

        June 19, 2015 at 8:46 am

        Past his prime and will not be a bit player.

        • Joe

          June 19, 2015 at 9:17 am

          He still has plenty to offer. You are delusional if you think the US cant use him.

          • jtm371

            June 19, 2015 at 9:34 am

            I’m sure you thought Landon should have been in Brazil. If I am delusional your crazy. 🙂

      • Flyvanescence

        June 19, 2015 at 9:28 am

        Of course they can use him. But lets face it its time for new blood. When dempsey plays its often a one-man show up front.


  11. jtm371

    June 18, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    3 months he broke the rule. Sorry Clint your not above the rules. Should be without pay.

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