Fabián Castillo is paying a steep price for bumping a referee, though when it comes to confronting match officials, you can’t blame Major League Soccer for erring on the side of severity. The extent to which the Dallas attacker’s four-match ban is in fact severe can be debated, but after bumping the first assistant in the moments after Dallas’s June 11 draw in Portland, Castillo will be out until Aug. 3, suspended for four matches by MLS’s Disciplinary Committee.
‘Bumping the first assistant’ is actually a euphemism, in this instance. After lead official Alan Kelly blew full-time on last month’s 2-2 draw, Castillo raced off the Dallas bench to confront Fabio Tovar on the near sideline. In doing so, the Colombian attacker bumped the assistant and had to be restrained by teammates, adding to end-game commotion that’d already seen an FC Dallas assistant ejected after a confrontation with a Timbers’ fan.
This wasn’t just an accidentally bump. The sprint off the bench could have earned a fine by itself, be it for Castillo or his team. That the young attacker made contact with the official only added to the “what was he thinking” feeling around the incident.
According to Major League Soccer, Castillo received an obligatory two-game ban for violent conduct, with the circumstances leading the “DC” to add an extra two. Castillo appealed through the Players Union — an appeal which was denied — explaining why, despite the verdict’s being announced to today, the 22-year-old sat out this weekend’s match in Columbus.
Out of the next three games, Castillo will miss matches against Philadelphia, New England, and Vancouver, a particularly bitter loss considering how long it took FC Dallas to adjust to life without playmaker Mauro Díaz. A big part of that adjustment has been the recent emergence of Castillo, who had begun converting some of his persistent threats into actual goals.
Yet after three goals in six games from May 18 to June 14, Castillo has been handed this involuntarily vacation. Perhaps coincidentally, Dallas was shutout in the first game of his absence, generating only two shots on target on Sunday in Ohio. Without him or Diaz, Óscar Pareja will be left hoping one of Blas Pérez, Tesho Akindele, Andrés Escobar, Je-Vaughn Watson, or David Texeira can become a more consistent threat.
With the rest of the West making up their games in hand on FCD, three more games without the team’s main attackert could prove particularly ill-timed. In fourth place now, Dallas could find themselves outside of the West’s top five by the time their biggest threat returns.