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MLS must be expedient in making FC Dallas forfeiture decision

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It’s time for MLS to actually solve this problem.

MLS: FC Dallas at Orlando City SC Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve all been sitting here for the whole of the work week, wondering when and if Major League Soccer will announce any punishment for FC Dallas after they fielded an ineligible player against Orlando City SC.

Paul Tenorio, the FourFourTwo reporter who broke the story, says MLS has decided on a fine as punishment.

Still, the rules specify a forfeiture, with Dan Crooke publishing in Dallas-area outlet SportsDay an excerpt of the MLS Competition Manual, which isn’t publicly available (although he doesn’t say where the excerpt came from):

4.2.4.1.a. Starting Player. -An injured or ill starting player's vacant Official Match Roster position may only be filled by a named substitute listed on the Official Match Roster, thus leaving a vacant substitute position on the Official Match Roster. -The resulting vacant substitute Official Match Roster position may only be filled by a player from the Club's eligible active roster. -The injured or ill player will be ineligible for the match and cannot sit on the Club's bench.

RSL general manager Craig Waibel doesn’t think it’s clear-cut, telling Houston Chronicle reporter Corey Roepken that it would be “very disappointing” if the league punishment was just a fine.

So here we are, with a decision not having been publicly made, and one source saying it has been, with Waibel urging caution. It’s Friday morning, and no decision has been made known.

If MLS fails to make a decision before Saturday evening, they will have failed both teams involved and every team around them in the standings.

While Real Salt Lake has a free pass this week for the FIFA international break, FC Dallas plays in Colorado on Saturday evening. Delaying this decision will only further open a gaping hole in MLS’s already suspect application of rules, and it will only have further implications in matches. If the league can’t make a decision on this in a timely manner, how can they be expected to hold up other rules of competition?

If MLS decides there was no rule broken — this, despite it looking extremely clear cut from the outside and from people on the inside, like Mike Petke — it will only further fuel conspiracy theory fires here. And maybe that’s a good thing, in a sense. We were at our must unified as a fanbase when it was us against the league. That’s not to say I expect one decision over another, but it is MLS, and I do have an impending sense of doom about this.

Of course, we’re interested because it could affect our playoff chances, although it’s still very much on us to make sure we make it. Our self-interest only expands so far into this controversy. We can be up in arms if MLS doesn’t enforce their rules properly about forfeiture,

If we reach Saturday and no decision has been made, we can safely assume one thing: If any decision is made, it’ll probably not go in a way that’s entirely pleasing to us. It’ll probably end with FC Dallas walking away unscathed. Or, maybe, it could end with FC Dallas earning more points if they choose to allow the teams to replay the match. That would sort of be worst-case scenario.

Knowing MLS, they’ll probably drop a decision in our laps at 5 p.m. Eastern today — the Friday news drop is real.

Until then, at least we know FC Dallas is aware of the situation. An FC Dallas site says they’ll be publishing a full transcript of an interview with Oscar Pareja following any announcement.