Six days after getting suspended three MLS matches for tearing up the referee's notebook during a U.S. Open Cup match against the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey was suspended from U.S. Open Cup competition for either six matches or two years.
The U.S. Soccer Federation's U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel has ordered that the exact nature of the U.S. Open Cup ban will be determined according to which of the two punishments is ultimately more severe, per Brian Straus of SI.com.
While most would likely agree that Dempsey's conduct on the pitch was improper, FOX Sports' Alexi Lalas questioned the basis of his second suspension:
The 32-year-old star's status in international play remains unaffected, as he was named to Team USA's Gold Cup roster and will be permitted to play for the Stars and Stripes this summer.
Following the controversial incident, United States head soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann expressed his intention to discuss what transpired with his captain, according to USSoccer.com:
The situation with Clint Dempsey, obviously, is something that I saw basically on the internet. I was in Europe still after our games against Holland and Germany. It's something that nobody wants to see. It's a mistake, and mistakes happen. So, obviously when he comes in next week to Nashville in preparation for our friendly game with Guatemala, we'll sit down and talk through that and we'll go from there.
MLS commissioner Don Garber spoke on the difficult nature of the decision, per Kyle McCarthy of Fox Sports:
Discipline is hard. You never can win. The league is always in a lose-lose because you have a multitude of constituencies. All we can do is interpret the rule. The rule very specifically said that assault required physical violence. We did not determine what Clint had done as physically violent. It was really bad. He shouldn't have done it. He apologized, the club apologized.
Dempsey is undoubtedly one of the faces of American soccer, and while he got caught up in the heat of the moment, he has an added responsibility to represent the sport and his country with dignity.
He is paying the price for not doing that, but he'll have an opportunity to redeem himself if he can help lead the Americans to a second consecutive Gold Cup title and a berth in the Confederations Cup.
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