Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey has been suspended two matches by Major League Soccer following an incident on Saturday in which he punched Toronto defender Mark Bloom in the groin area. The league officially announced the suspension on Friday:
The Disciplinary Committee hit Dempsey with a two-game suspension and and fined him an undisclosed amount for an off-the-ball incident during the Sounders’ 2-1 loss to Toronto FC last weekend in Seattle. Dempsey appeared to intentionally strike TFC defender Mark Bloom in the midsection in the 40th minute of the match (video above), and although Dempsey later argued he was slapping Bloom’s hand away during the altercation, the committee ruled Dempsey used violent conduct during the incident.
The Toronto Sun's Kurtis Larson was among the first to report the suspension:
Philly.com's Jonathan Tannenwald adds the specifics:
Dempsey’s games out: 3/22 at Montréal (on Olympic Stadium’s bad turf) and 3/29 vs. Columbus.— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) March 19, 2014
Tannenwald also broke down the fairness of the suspension and mentioned his return date for the Sounders:
That seems a fair punishment. But it is noteworthy that Dempsey’s first game back will be at Portland on April 5.— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) March 19, 2014
The incident occurred late in the first half with Seattle trailing 2-0 when a frustrated Dempsey swung his arm back, striking Bloom just below the stomach.
Here's a look in case you missed it, via NBC Sports Network broadcast:
Dempsey was called for a foul but not carded, as the officials missed the incident. The television cameras did not, however.
But after the match, Dempsey explained the situation, claiming he was trying to get Bloom's hand off of his back, per ESPN FC:
I tried to hit it away and thought I was hitting his hand away. I understand that maybe I did catch him a little bit. I apologized to him about that, but for me, all I was trying to do was smack his hand from touching my back.
Although losing their most dangerous player is sure to have a negative impact over the Sounders' next two matches, the season is still young and Dempsey's suspension won't be long enough to derail their postseason hopes.
Dempsey, who signed with the club in August 2013, has scored only two goals through his first 14 appearances in Seattle.
Seattle is currently in fifth place in the Western Conference through two games and trails the first-place Vancouver Whitecaps by only one point heading into Saturday's showdown at Montreal.
In addition to starring for the Sounders, the 31-year-old will be looking to propel the United States men's national team this summer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The incident with Bloom is unlikely to have any impact on Dempsey's national team prospects moving forward. After all, he has 36 goals and over 100 career appearances under his belt over the last decade. Not to mention he's scored goals at each of the past two World Cup tournaments.
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