The MLS Disciplinary Committee has spoken. And once again, they got it wrong. They may have stayed consistent with previous simulation fouls, but they already back-tracked on their first ruling of the year.
Jelle Van Damme will not be available to play against Real Salt Lake on Saturday because he got upset when Diego Chara of the Portland Timbers flopped on the ground. As a point of reference, Chara didn’t come within a foot of receiving any contact from Van Damme when he rolled to the ground in fake pain. And while Van Damme didn’t get a yellow card for the foul, but the reaction to the foul, everyone is supposed to just let that go, right? WRONG.
Doing what any wrongly accused person does, Van Damme gesticulated wildly and may have even said some not so nice words in the general direction of a referee who was just badly fooled. He was upset. But he’s also the captain of the team so he’s afforded more leeway by referees when it comes to arguing calls.
But Head Referee Baldomero Toledo felt Van Damme was so egregious in his reaction — I didn’t think it was over the top — that he issued a yellow card.
Van Damme, now hopping mad at being wrongly charged with a foul and a yellow card goes into the next challenge and realizing he’s not getting to the ball, pulls out of it. But it’s too late. Because the Timbers’ David Guzman had already decided he was going down. He threw his body into the air, twisted and outstretched his left foot and dragged it into the ground anticipating the hard Belgian hit he knew was going to just miss him. He lands, shoulder first into the forgiving turf at StubHub.
Toledo, in response to the Pool Reporters question, said “Van Damme attempted to trip Guzman which stopped a promising attack. Guzman avoided the contact and fell awkwardly.”
But in actuality, Guzman was already falling before any contact was coming and Van Damme never stuck his foot out to “trip” his opponent. So fooled twice in less than three minutes, Toledo gave Van Damme his marching orders and subsequently left the Galaxy to play with 10-men for the rest of the game.
So fooled twice in less than three minutes, Toledo gave Van Damme his marching orders and subsequently left the Galaxy to play with 10-men for the rest of the game.
The Disciplinary Committee, after reviewing all the possible angles, in regular speed and super slow motion (I’m assuming they have that capability), found Chara guilty of simulation and fined him accordingly. Okay…
However, the Committee wasn’t unanimous in its decision for Guzman. You see, all three
You see, all three members have to be unanimous in their decision if they’re to book someone retroactively for diving, embellishment, or simulation. And in the case of Guzman, they just couldn’t decide.
Which is very unfortunate. Or maybe it’s just giving a player a break when he dove to the ground and actually injured himself. Guzman separated his shoulder on that play. He injured himself while diving. So perhaps the committee decided it was just better to let this one slide.
But here’s the deal, in a play that didn’t decide a game, Dave Romney was suspended for embellishment when he was deemed to have not been fouled in the box during the Galaxy’s season opener. Romney’s “embellishment” ultimately gave the team a penalty kick and it was converted. But the Galaxy still lost the game. The “embellishment” didn’t change the game.
But because it was in the box, the DisCo set a new precedent and suspended a player for embellishment — the first time we can ever find of the committee making that punishment. For simulation there is one other case of player diving in the box, getting a penalty and his team converting that penalty to win the game. But that’s some serious game manipulation. That’s game-changing.
Even if you are to conceded that Romney did embellish the contact, tell me a defender who isn’t doing that in the box. I think they actually teach that. And btw, Romney remains steadfast that there was contact.
So with the suspension of Dave Romney in week 1, and now the lack of suspension for Chara or Guzman, the DisCo is basically saying that things in the penalty box are different than things in the field. Fine. And that when we suspended a player for diving in the box to get a game-winning goal we weren’t commenting on the fact it was a huge game-changing moment, we were just commenting on the fact it was in the box.
Because the charade the Timbers were able to pull off on Sunday at StubHub Center was much more game-changing than Dave Romney winning a penalty kick in a loss. And by acknowledging that two players and an entire team conspired to cheat a player off the field, but not punishing those players or that team in any reasonable way, the DisCo shows us they’re not into maintaining the integrity of the game — part of their mission statement. They are simply there to suspend people for fouls in one part of the field and fine players for fouls in other parts of the field. The impact of the egregious acts doesn’t matter. And therefore the fair play they are working to uphold doesn’t matter either.
Because if they were actually into restoring the integrity of the game, they’d pull the first yellow card away from Jelle Van Damme. Because without the deceit imparted by Chara, Van Damme doesn’t yell and scream. He doesn’t get a yellow for dissent. If they were into upholding the integrity of the game they issue a retroactive yellow card for simulation and they suspend Chara. Then they move on down the line and do the exact same to Guzman — you know, once he recovers from his self-inflicted injury.
By not recognizing the game-changing nature of the simulation by the Timbers, and the absolute lack of game-changing reaction to Dave Romney’s embellishment (another DisCo decision they got wrong), the DisCo is saying they don’t care. And they won’t fix it.
For their part, the Galaxy will have had three players suspended in the span of three games. Hardly the way you want to the start the season. But two of those suspensions were wrong, are wrong, and will continue to be wrong.
The good news for Galaxy fans? We’ll always have this amazing bit of social media. No one, not even Don Garber himself can take that away from you. It will all be okay. Probably.