Major League Soccer suspends 4 more players after the fact (Updated)

So I have waited to voice my opinion on what MLS has done so far this season as far as the work of the MLS Disciplinary Committee, you know the group that started taking a much more active role in things last year. As they started to punish players for things other than just missed red cards, when things like "embellishment" started to come into the mix.

Today I got an email update from MLS that was as follows:

MLS Announces Disciplinary Action from Week 4

NEW YORK (April 3, 2012) - The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee issued the following actions based on games in Week 4 of the MLS Regular Season:

  • Jair Benitez (FC Dallas) is suspended for one (1) game and fined for violent conduct that endangered the safety of his opponent. Mr. Benitez's action occurred in the 71st minute of the match between FC Dallas and D.C. United on Saturday, March 31st. For video CLICK HERE.
  • Danny Cruz (D.C. United) is fined for his act of embellishment which brought the game into disrepute. Mr. Cruz's action occurred in the 71st minute of the match between FC Dallas and D.C. United on Saturday, March 31st. For video CLICK HERE.
  • Brandon McDonald (D.C. United) is suspended for one (1) game and fined for his reckless challenge that endangered the safety of his opponent. Mr. McDonald's action occurred in the 20th minute of the match between FC Dallas and D.C. United on Saturday, March 31st. For video CLICK HERE.
  • Atiba Harris (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) is suspended for one (1) game and fined for violent conduct that endangered the safety of his opponent. Mr. Harris's action occurred in the 65th minute of the match between Philadelphia Union and Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, March 31st. For video CLICK HERE.

Fines collected will be donated to the charitable partners of MLS W.O.R.K.S. and the MLS Players Union.

Now let me be clear, I don't disagree with any of these actions. I do question why things like this are being missed by the officials in charge of the matches?

more thoughts after the jump:

So back at MLS Cup I asked two questions of Sr VP of Player Relations Todd Durbin and EVP of Competition Nelson Rodriguez, both are featured in this clip:

Sr VP of Player Relations Todd Durbin and EVP of Competition Nelson Rodriguez:

The first question was about allocation money and adding some level of transparency to that, which of course MLS responded to that they would look at and their response has been noted on their website:

To protect the interests of MLS and its clubs during discussions with prospective players or clubs in other leagues, amounts of allocation money held by each club will not be shared publicly.

The second question (about 1:10 in the clip) was about adding some transparency to the actions of the MLS Disciplinary Committee. I actually thought they might do it, when they said that they would become more transparent, but we are now a month into the season and this is what they are offering fans for transparency.

So the question remains, what does the committee review? Are these things submitted by the teams? By MLS officials watching matches on TV? By fans posting videos of missed calls and asking why?

Then there is the question of why some get punished and others don't, we see 4 players punished this week but I think based on the comments of many already on twitter that there is some surprise that Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso isn't on the list. You can read the account here via Prost Amerika of a punch thrown by Alonso, there is also the question of him kneeing a player who was already down.

One could of course also ask about Steven Lenhart's possible embellishment that drew the PK call against the Sounders, was it reviewed? If so why wasn't it punished?

I am sure in almost every match there is something that goes missed, like the Oswaldo Minda slap of Kyle Beckerman a couple weeks ago, which was caught by the stadium camera but not by the TV camera. It went unpunished. So I am stuck wondering what criteria is used on what plays are reviewed, what criteria is used to ensure consistent enforcement of the rules, and what if anything is being done to the officials who miss these types of calls?

I noticed a complete silence on ussoccer.com when it comes to their referee review (the last update was 4 months ago), I don't even know if PRO (Professional Referee Organization) even has a website. So as fans you and I are left to wonder what is going one, and I don't think we are going to get any answers very soon.

OFF MY SOAPBOX

Updates: So this topic hasn't gone away overnight and former SB Nation writer and now the guy behind Pro Soccer Talk on nbcsports.com Steve Davis has posted two things on this topic. Perhaps the most interesting is in this mornings post on his conversation with EVP of Competition Nelson Rodriguez in which this was offered up:

The quick background: one of the five members of Major League Soccer's disciplinary committee, or someone else within the league on particularly busy match days, monitors every contest and then submits fouls or actions that warrant further review.

To recommend a retroactive suspension, all five members of the committee must agree that the action meets criteria for a red card.

prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com

You can (and should) read both of Steve's posts on this topic:

Course correction: MLS finds its feet on disciplinary matters

and

MLS VP on Osvaldo Alonso's tackle, and on retroactive suspensions

So while I agree with cutting down player injuries, reckless plays, and the stated intent of what Nelson says, I do question how they do it and the still lack of transparency from the league in what is being reviewed, and while I don't expect them to tell us who voted what way. I would love to see a list of what plays are reviewed and what the final vote is on each of them, because clearly each week fans see things that they might wonder about but unless someone specifically asks about it there is little chance that the public will ever know if it was reviewed or not.

I also think it was interesting they talk about the tackle mad by Alonso but nobody talks about the punch/slap to the head by Alonso, or the knee to the head of a down player that he also got away with. So I am still left with more questions than answers on this topic.

BACK OFF MY SOAPBOX

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