MLS- Vancouver Whitecaps

MLS disciplines Harris, McDonald, Benitez, Cruz for Week 4 actions

Harris (Getty Images)

The MLS disciplinary committee is bringing down the hammer

After reviewing the past weekend's matches, the league's disciplinary arm has suspended FC Dallas' Jair Benitez, D.C. United's Brandon McDonald and Vancouver Whitecaps' Atiba Harris a game apiece and fined them for violent conduct, and fined D.C. United's Danny Cruz for embellishment during their respective Week 4 matches.

Benitez threw a flailing elbow at Cruz while the two were fighting for possession in the corner late in D.C. United's 4-1 victory over FC Dallas, and Benitez earned his suspension for the elbow, while Cruz was fined for exaggerating the incident. Earlier in that same game, McDonald came in on Blas Perez with a harsh tackle from behind that earned a yellow card but was deemed to have deserved further discipline.

Harris, meanwhile, delivered a flagrant elbow to Philadelphia Union defender Carlos Valdes' head as he was trying to pass the ball forward from his own end, with the Whitecaps' forward drawing a yellow card for the incident.

The punishments come a week after the league elected to suspend and fine Houston Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat for a hard tackle and fine Seattle Sounders midfielder Alvaro Fernandez for simulation in their Week 3 matchup.

What do you think of all of the discipline? Was it all warranted? Do you like the steps MLS is taking to punish hard challenges and simulation?

Share your thoughts below.

  • jb

    This is encouraging. MLS is now starting to blossom with some quality footballers. Without a doubt, the thing holding MLS back is the officiating and the blatant hacks that are able to get away with intentional fouls, often with the intent to injure. A good defender can body up a player without fouling. And injuries aside, if a defender impedes the progress of an attacker without playing the ball…it HAS to be a foul! This is really what the MLS officials haven’t seemed to figure out. If this can change, then you will start to see a more free-flowing and attractive game to watch. I dont doubt the posters who are claiming this retro-active punishments aren’t entirely consistant, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.


  • pd

    The idea of reprimanding refs is an interesting one, but I think there would be a need to handle that privately so as to prevent a situation where players start challenging recently reprimanded refs…

    As for appealing, I think there should be a mechanism for that in terms of appealing the ruling, but not the result. The purpose of this is to shape the style of play and let players know that they will be held to a high level of accountability, meaning if the ref is human and missies something that is discovered in hindsight, you will not get away with it as a player. Hopefully that will make everyone think twice in future opportunities.

    I have no doubt there will be times it’s used in an o verily harsh manner, but if it results in less diving, less hacking and fewer injuries from rash challenges then I think it’s worth trying.


  • pd

    So you are saying that a committee charged with lowering injury and advantage through questionable play like diving and illegal tactic and harsh challenges is going to go on a crusade against potential concussions by stamping out the scourge of heading the ball? I need some help in seeing how you’re connecting those dots…


  • Brett

    Wait… How does Cruz fit in here? They suspend the guy who elbowed him, so they obviously think the elbow was enough to warrant a suspension, but Cruz also gets a fine for “embellishment”? How can they acknowledge that the elbow was worth a suspension while still punishing Cruz for falling down after being hit in the face? Can someone explain this to me?


  • Todd C

    Bravo MLS! Hopefully Europe takes notice and can apply the same by 2020. Doubt it, but diving ruins the beautiful game and stronger measures should be in place to fine/suspend for diving and embellishment! In the long run deterring players from this deplorable acting will only make the game better! Kudos MLS! Keep it up and great example to set for the rest of the planet.

    BTW, The USWNT and other women’s national teams rarely dive/embellish. The men should be ashamed.


  • bcoug

    Look at the video on the MLS site … Cruz’s face grabbing following a blow to the mid-section is ridiculous.
    That being said, if the official blows his whistle after any of the first half-dozen or so fouls on this play neither player gets suspended.


  • Adi from Oregon

    I totally agree with your comments and would add that the entire soccer world would benefit from post-game reviews and necessary punishments. I would even review and alter any obvious goals (award obvious goals & take away blatent off-side scores).


  • US Soccer Fan

    He is a sad unsportsmanlike player with a terrible haircut and a bad attitude. He gets whats coming to him every time he looks in the mirror and remembers “oh that’s right… I’m Steven Lenhardt!” (cue sad music and a single tear)


  • thaDeuce

    by the same token, it also has a chilling effect on hard but honest play. mcdonald was not malicious but was playing hard, had recieved a yellow, and should be able to move on.


  • th

    I agree. Beckham consistently gets away with horrendous tackles. No bookings and certainly no fines or suspensions handed down. Preferential treatment?


  • th

    Its the refs job deal with discipline. Too bad the refs in the MLS are a joke. The league should only get involved with suspensions and fines when it comes to violent misconduct or racism.


  • fischy

    None, unless you think Lenhart is a star..or you don’t realize that Moffat is white.


  • fischy

    I’ve long said that Ihemelu is the dirtiest player in the league. He’s got two scalps to his credit — careers derailed: Dominic Mediate and Mac Kandji. Actually, I should say two that I know of. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they weren’t the only ones to be cut down Ugo.


  • Vinz Clortho

    I don’t think the league is going overboard with this (though they certainly could)..

    It’s a good tool to keep players in check, ie.they know video review may result in some disciplinary action and adjust their game..


  • Air Jordanz

    Diving/Flopping happens in both those leagues.

    It’s less tolerated in the NBA and less detectable in the NFL (where people are getting hurt, seriously, left and right).

    Also, it’s pretty hard to hurt an American football player with a headbutt or an elbow to the face when he’s in full pads and helmet. Even the best actors can’t make that seem legit.


  • Air Jordanz

    Cripples? If you’re reading an article about MLS on an American soccer blog, I’d expect you to recognize the following names:

    Stuart Holden, Steve Zakuani, David Ferreira, Javier Morales

    Some of these guys’ injuries would have ended their careers 10-20 years ago and left them “cripples.”


  • bryan

    i like this. especially for simulation. i think the mcdonald one is pretty harsh though.


  • th

    Diving, embellishment or whatever you want to call it is considered “unsporting behavior” and is listed under Law 12 as a “cautionable offense”. A yellow card is satisfactory punishment. No need to fine already underpaid players, especially since they have already been punished.


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