Get your popcorn ready for this one, folks. It’s not often you get a fourth round matchup in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup of this caliber, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event to see the spectacle that unfolded at Starfire Sports Complex.
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The defending champion Seattle Sounders crashed out of the tournament via a 3-1 loss to Cascadia Cup rivals Portland in absolutely spectacular fashion. The game was the opening match for both clubs in this year’s tournament, although technically the fourth round of action.
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Lost in all this chaos are the two extra-time goals by Portland’s Rodney Wallace and Max Urruti to send the Timbers through, but that’s not what everyone’s talking about. Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Michael Azira were all sent off – the Seattle and USMNT captain most dramatically. Obafemi Martins, the lone Seattle goalscorer, was also stretchered off with a chest injury in the 87th minute, leaving Seattle with a team of just seven men to finish the game. The Sounders, via Martins, had equalized at 1-1 already one man down to leave things tied at the end of regulation, but as the game progressed through extra time and the hosts continued to lose players, Portland scored twice to seal it.
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The 32-year-old Dempsey could be in significant trouble with the authorities following this match. With Azira given a questionable straight red for an elbow to the face of Gaston Fernandez, Dempsey fumed at referee Daniel Radford. His anger boiled over, and he proceeded to swat some kind of paper (yellow card? notebook?) out of the referee’s hand, strolled over to pick it up, and then ripped it to shreds.
Obviously the referee didn’t take kindly to that, and sent
Cantona Dempsey off, but he didn’t go quietly. The Texan got his money’s worth much like a baseball manager throwing a tantrum, requiring multiple players from both sides to hold him back. He sarcastically clapped in the assistant referee’s face on his way out.
This can’t end well for Clint. While MLS likely has little to no jurisdiction over conduct in a U.S. Open Cup match, U.S. Soccer certainly does, and they will probably come down hard, although its unclear whether they can ban him for anything more than future U.S. Open Cup matches. It’s possible this could affect his national team standing as well, as a captain is meant to represent the country through his actions on and off the field.
[ UPDATE: According to the U.S. Soccer bylaws, the federation has a choice to make. Should it deem Dempsey’s actions towards the referee to be “assault,” Clint would automatically be suspended for 3 months from ALL competitions, club and country. If not, his suspension – however long – would be limited to just the U.S. Open Cup ]
There’s a chance Seattle could face the consequences for fan conduct too, as fans expressed their displeasure by raining thrown objects on the referees, who required a police escort to exit the playing field.
1. Portland knocked out the defending champs in the fourth round
2. Seattle finished the game with 7 men
3. Clint Dempsey ragequit by shredding the ref’s paperwork
4. Refs needed a police escort
That, my friends, is a full night. For all those who attended, make sure to keep your ticket stubs. Before we part ways, let’s check on how Seattle’s doing…