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Bobby Boswell suspended for first leg vs. Red Bulls

Photo by Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

Despite no one from D.C. United seeing a red card during the 90 minutes of play Wednesday, the club will be without one of its starters on Sunday because of suspension.

The Washington Post has reported that centerback Bobby Boswell will miss the opening leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals match against the New York Red Bulls because the MLS Disciplinary Committee has handed him a one-game ban. Boswell was punished for an off the-ball-incident with Juan Agudelo in D.C.’s 2-1 win over the New England Revolution in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday.

There is no public video of the play, which occurred in the 69th minute, but MLS does have footage of the event and the Disciplinary Committee has reportedly acted accordingly.

Agudelo went down in pain following the collision, and Boswell was shown a yellow card by referee Mark Geiger for unsporting behavior. Agudelo was forced out of the game, and afterwards, claimed that the D.C. United defender kneed his hamstring.

What do you think of Boswell’s suspension? Should MLS make video of the play public? How will D.C. United cope without their veteran centerback on Sunday? Who would you replace him with in the lineup?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. There is no conspiracy theory, the video is out there and one game is an absolute joke. A real league would’ve giving him at least five.
    Why even pretend you’re doing something about it?

    • funny enough, i agree with you. a one-game suspension is kind of odd. think he’d get 3 games (not 5) in, say, the epl–but in general, yeah.

  2. Interesting that they are doing this, but will they review Drogba’s two footed stomp against Toronto… Once again it is the selective punishment of MLS

  3. It was an off the ball incident…who know how well Geiger saw it?
    If he gave a red, everyone would be whining that he decided the game.
    Refs can’t win.

  4. It was deliberate. Boswell admitted it was deliberate. What he is not admitting is the nature of it – which was basic brutality. Agudelo was standing alone and relaxed watching play on the defensive end after a clear. Boswell mosies over to Agudelo from behind and when he gets within a foot of him, he drives his knee straight into Agudelo’s hamstring. It was vicious. It wasn’t even retaliation. I cringed in disgust the moment it happened; immediately assuming Agudelo was injured and feeling my United pride deflate. I’m glad my children didn’t see it, so I didn’t have to explain why he would do that.

    Yes, I saw it with my eyes. Happened right in front of our section.

    • not sure if you were responding to me…

      i understand that the contact was deliberate. as you say, boswell admitted it, and even if he didn’t–it happens every game especially between forwards and defenders who think no one’s watching. my contention with increase’s comment was that he claimed boswell’s intention was to injure agudelo.

      • if you don’t think there are any degrees in between “making a new friend” and “deliberately injuring someone”, i don’t know what to tell you. never played contact sports, maybe?

        as i said earlier, i didn’t see it happen, so i don’t know how hard boswell hit him (i’ve heard differing opinions on it), but i did see agudelo going at both boswell and birnbaum throughout the match. which is perfectly fine!–that’s just what players do. looks like boswell went too far the last time, but it doesn’t mean it was an attempt to injure–he could’ve just misjudged the force or where he hit him.

        and in any case, it doesn’t matter. dc’s not getting past ny with or without boswell.

      • It’s very rare that you will see — and even rarer that you will hear someone admit to — an act with an intent to injure. But for lots of on-the-field shenanigans, the proper standard is recklessness – doing something that has a good chance of injuring someone and not caring. It’s the same idea that’s behind the “endangering the safety” rule. When you drive a knee into the back of someone’s thigh, it’s like closing your eyes and swinging your fist in a crowd of people. And it goes well beyond the normal off-the-ball stuff.

      • I shouldn’t have to respond to your insult, but here you go: I’ve played soccer at the JuCo level and played three sports in high school including football, and I was using hyperbole to make a point.

        Going in hard on a tackle, or shoving and grabbing, even when off the ball and jockeying for position is perfectly normal. Kneeing someone from behind hard enough to take them out of the game, when the ball is on the other side of the field is not something that should be defended. Who cares what was in his head? It wasn’t an accident.

        I feel like you’re trying to say that defenders trying to hurt defenseless forwards when the ref isn’t looking is par for the course. It really isn’t normal or acceptable.

        Here is another somewhat exaggerated example that might piss you off:

        Remember when Ndonkeykong Suh from the NFL stepped on that dudes face? What if the victim lost an eye? Would you still say we can’t judge the players intentions, that he wasn’t purposely trying to remove the other player from the game and take his eye? I don’t care what he was thinking, he deliberately broke the rules and tried to cause severe pain to a defenseless human. Taking the victim’s eye wasn’t an accident, it was a result of a choice he made.

      • Okay, you’re right that we don’t have video evidence, but I have heard from two people that claim to have seen this incident from the stand that it was not a tussle, but a cheap shot. They might be trolls, fair enough. Agudelo has said the same though, and he has given me no reason in the past to distrust him. Boswell was very vague about what happened.

        And I know there is a lot of nastiness that goes on at that level of play. People are trying to stay on top. I’m sure Agudelo isn’t some angel out there, and that he was probably doing things to get under Boswell’s skin, but Boswell went too far, based on the result of whatever mysterious thing happened.

        This kind of thing actually doesn’t go on all the time. I watch a lot of soccer and can’t remember the last time I saw a player get injured that far off the ball.

        Some people have said that Juan was about to come off anyway, so maybe he just acted like he was hurt so badly and embellished what might have been a rather tame knee to the back of his leg, to try to get someone sent off. It seems like a plausible tactic.

        Except why would Juan double down about it later? If it’s a lie, wouldn’t that kill his reputation among players as word spread from whoever DID actually see this? Wouldn’t Boswell call him out as a dive artist and first class actor? Doesn’t Boswell have a reputation to take things too far sometimes? And why is there only one camera at a professional soccer game????

        Haha, okay, I know they had to have more and that they were probably following the action too, but fa reals? No over head unmoving tactical cameras for coaches and other decision makers? No cross bar cam? No blimp??

      • brain guy,

        i don’t agree that boswell’s act (depending on whose version) went “well beyond the normal off-the-ball stuff”; at least when i played, it could get pretty rough. i do agree with you about the “reckless” part–even boswell didn’t have an issue with the disco’s decision–he went a little too far, and he got caught.

      • amphibian,

        wasn’t trying to insult you–i don’t think less of someone just because they don’t play sports–just trying to understand why you seemed convinced that this was a cruel and unusual act.

        “Kneeing someone from behind hard enough to take them out of the game”

        depending on where someone gets hit, the direction of the impact, fatigue, and plain bad luck (bodies are weird!), a player can get hurt in any kind of collision. just because someone got hurt doesn’t mean it was a horrific impact.

        “I feel like you’re trying to say that defenders trying to hurt defenseless forwards when the ref isn’t looking is par for the course.”

        then you’re not actually reading my comments. my point is that players do what they can–especially off the ball and out of the ref’s view–to rattle their opponents. yes, sometimes it goes too far. sometimes you get a player being an @sshole and actually trying to hurt someone. maybe that’s what happened with boswell, maybe not.

        a *somewhat* exaggerated example? mls finally posted the video of the incident. if you watch it and think “yep, preeeeetty close to a 300-pound guy stomping on someone’s face”, then again, i don’t know what to tell you.

      • Can you link the video please? I couldn’t find it.

        Man, my example was clear, and the fact that you can’t comprehend it’s relevance means we should probably just stop talking. If a player goes beyond the rules of the game to hurt another player, any injury that might result is deliberate, regardless of what was in the player’s head.

        “I wasn’t trying to take him out of the game, just cause him a lot of pain.” Isn’t a good excuse to me. And It doesn’t matter how common that kind of dirty action is, it doesn’t make it right.

        So you think Agudelo and these witnesses are liars, even though Boswell didn’t call him out and danced around what happened when asked? Or you think it’s okay regardless of what happened?

      • yeah, i can’t really see us reaching a “happy medium” on this one.

        i will say, i must be muddling my words, because you still seem confused on my stance:

        i’m *not* trying to defend boswell here. hell, *boswell’s* not trying to defend boswell. he got caught, and he’ll serve a suspension.

        i’m not placing a value judgement on “rattling” an opposing player. not to say that i think it’s fine; i’m just saying that it’s not like boswell’s this maniac running around trying to kill agudelo. (to take your suh–or was it haynesworth?–example: i’m pretty sure suh/haynesworth had no doubt that the headstomp would likely do some damage, with the strong possibility of serious, career-ending damage. i’m not sure how serious agudelo’s injury is, but the result of the impact could as easily have been a small bruise as a game-ender.) they (boswell and agudelo) were going at each other all game, just like (almost?) all forwards/defenders do. if that’s bad, then sure, they should start calling it. no problem with that.

        and i have no idea if agudelo or any of the witnesses are liars–maybe, i don’t know them. agudelo says he felt “disrespected”. sure, okay. it’s a little harder to believe that he’s “never been disrepected like that” before, but whatever–he’s young.

      • Thanks for the link, and yeah, it doesn’t change my opinion. You might be right that defenders are always kneeing forwards hard in the back of the leg and things like that, and that Agudelo getting hurt was just a random outcome from a common event.

        I’m not sure what were debating Nate. You agree that it was a cheap shot worthy of suspension, correct? Are you saying that Boswell wasn’t trying to hurt Agudelo that much, and the resulting injury from said attack is an accident?

        I’m saying there are no accidents when you get unnecessarily violent with someone, especially someone who has there back turned to you.

      • “You might be right that defenders are always kneeing forwards hard in the back of the leg”

        not always, but it’s certainly not unusual.

        “I’m saying there are no accidents when you get unnecessarily violent with someone, especially someone who has there back turned to you.”

        wise words to live by, but of course they’re not necessarily true. an accident is simply the unintentional result of any act. in essence you (and agudelo) are saying that boswell was trying to injure him so badly that he’d need to be subbed, and i’m saying: “eh” *hand-waggle*

    • I it was like you describe, Boswell deserves more than a single game ban. For those who say this is normal “off the ball stuff”, I would say it is time to deal with that “stuff” very harshly. Referees will not catch all of it and you can argue that it is therefore capricious, but even if they catch only 1 in 10 incidences, 3 or 4 game suspensions for this kind of “stuff” will have the long term result of reducing that kind of “stuff” significantly.

  5. We’re screwed!

    Oh, who am I kidding with the way we’ve been playing, I never rated us against the Red Bulls anyway. This will make things that much harder for us.

    • Looks like MLS is trying to fix the playoffs to insure that Red Bulls make the finals. With LA out, they need the big market team (NY) to face off against the Sounders.

      • I get your drift. And I also can’t help but think it’s moot. When the Bulls actually make the playoffs then I can seriously consider it.

      • Really, this looks like an MLS conspiracy to you to protect the hottest team in the league against one of the coolest?

  6. Not sure why Geiger didn’t give the hand ball penal vs DC but Boswell needs to be smarter as he puts his team in a difficult position in round 1 vs the Bulls. Who will DC start in his place?

  7. I really hate that refs try to avoid reds in the playoffs. It gives teams like DC an advantage and promote ugly soccer.

    Also this reinforces the fact that DC was given the game by the ref. Deliberately injurying the goal scorer off the ball, heres a yellow! 2 handballs that are nearly the same. Here DC have a pen! I don’t think its a conspiracy or anything just blatant bias by Geiger.

    • “Deliberately injurying the goal scorer”

      how do you know it was deliberate? i mean, the public hasn’t seen the video yet, and i didn’t even see it at the game. players run into each other all the time–sometimes even on purpose!–without necessarily trying to hurt someone.

      but yes, i agree that yellow/red cards should be consistent no matter the competition (looking at you, dejong), and that neither one of the handballs should’ve been a penalty. that’s geiger for you.


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