No one paying attention will be surprised by the three-game ban handed out by Major League Soccer’s Commissioner Don Garber today to San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon.
Garber will also require Gordon to attend diversity and sensitivity training on top of the training all MLS clubs regularly receive at the beginning of each season.
During a heated exchange Sunday, Gordon directed a homophobic slur toward Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson.
Colin Clark, playing then for the Houston Dynamo, received the same three-game ban for a homophobic slur directed toward a ball boy. Later in 2012 the Seattle Sounders Marc Burch was handed the very same length suspension for his gay slur during a match. In Burch’s case, that cost him playoff matches.
If you watch the incident from Sunday closely, you can see Gordon wince immediately after unleashing his unkind and unwise words for Johnson – as if he already understands that a suspension is coming, even just seconds later. He knows he has messed up.
And in fact, it appears that Johnson holds up three fingers and says “three games.”
The players all know what’s at stake on this stuff – which is why containing the rush of blood to the head remains a central, necessary element in every player’s tool chest.