MLS disciplinary hammer falls; but is it consistent?

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Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee has suspended Houston Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat for one game and fined him an undisclosed amount for a tackle last week against Seattle, one deemed reckless enough for punitive action.

The committee also fined Seattle midfielder Alvaro Fernandez (an undisclosed amount) for embellishment of contact in the 82nd minute of that match.

The important take-away: MLS continues aiming to knock off some of the rough stuff, taking more aggressive action against dangerous, reckless or potentially injurious moments on the field. The judgment against Moffat is certainly a step in that direction.

But the mandates must be consistently, evenly applied. Look at Moffat’s tackle.

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It’s a bad challenge. But is it egregiously worse, for instance, than what David Beckham did to D.C United’s Marcelo Saragosa a couple of weeks ago? (I couldn’t turn up video of that one, but take my word, it was fairly nasty.) Here’s one from the same game by Landon Donovan that could have broken Stephen King’s ankle.

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The concern here isn’t favoritism toward the moneyed, famous and pretty of MLS. (Although some referees do seem reluctant to book Beckham, but let’s not get sidetracked.) Rather, the point is that each MLS weekend will come a few fouls that fall roughly the same place as Moffat’s along the reckless-dangerous-injurious continuum.

Watch this one from the latest MLS match (prior to tonight’s D.C. United-FC Dallas contest):

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In this case, Sporting Kansas City’s Chance Myers does a number on Ricardo Villar that left Dallas’ midfielder questionable for this week’s contest. You could argue that Moffat’s tackle was worse. Maybe. But was it so different that it deserved a much harsher penalty, a yellow card for Myers but a yellow card and retroactive suspension for Moffat?

A fine and one-game suspension for Houston’s midfielder? I don’t necessarily have a problem with that … so long as justice is meted fairly, evenly and consistently moving forward, every weekend for every match, and not just for the selected nasty infraction here and there.