While watching sports, it can be difficult to remain fully objective. That's just the overall nature of competitive events. I'm sure last weekend D.C. United supporters felt hard-done by the suspension of Brandon McDonald and fining of Danny Cruz. I would bet that Vancouver Whitecaps fans felt anger about losing Atiba Harris. I'm positive that FC Dallas's tens of dozens of fans were upset by Jair Benitez being suspended. But those are not my guys. They are not my designated player. They are not my captain. So who cares about the hardships suffered by those fans?
I will be the first to admit that when MLS's Disciplinary Committee started handing out fines and suspensions at the beginning of this year, I was equally excited and, to put it mildly, suspicious. Over and over again it has been stated that MLS needs to protect its skilled players. And they do. Officials do miss calls. It happens. So it is completely reasonable to safeguard players; however, it has - just as often - been pointed out that MLS has not always been consistent in the punishing of players for similar infringements.
Last year, Charlie Davies and Alvaro Saborio got fined for embellishing fouls (or non fouls) that led to penalties and their respective teams stealing points. Yet, when Steven Lenhart does it this year, nary a word is mentioned.
This year, when Lovel Palmer sent my beloved Lee Nguyen tumbling to the ground and received no more than a yellow card, or Fabian Castillo put his hands in the face of my A.J. Soares, we again so no league action post match. But then, my Shalrie Joseph mistimes a tackle, and the official gives him a (deserved) yellow card, and suddenly MLS is stepping in to overrule the official by handing out both a fine and a suspension. The officials acted in this case, and, in my biased opinion, they acted according to the rules. So when the league steps in for this case, and not for others, it reeks of unequal punishments for similar - if not worse in the Palmer situation - cases.
Granted, I do not think MLS "has it out for the New England Revolution." And I get that you can't exactly equate one action and punishment - or lack thereof - to another, but I am concerned that in trying to fix league officiating and take out some of the physicality in the game (which I'm all for), the league may actually be taking power away from the officials. Especially in a case like Shalrie's, which regardless of my bias is the most questionable of the suspensions thus far. If these rules are applied the same to everyone, then I am okay with the ensuing punishments and fines. Even if they are aimed at my players.
So yes, if you must, fine and suspend Shalrie. Do what you must if you really, truly, honestly feel it will improve the on-field product, but make sure when David Beckham is back scissor tackling Josh Wollf, he receives the same discipline. This early season stance by the MLS Disciplinary Committee is good for the game. They're showing that they want to protect their players. Yet, and I know it's a cliched question but it is cliched due to past letdowns, will it last?
Either way, no matter what I write, Shalrie Joseph is out for this week. And if he were an FC Dallas player who had been suspended I would probably would not have even written this - thus is how biases work. So for now, as long as the rules are applied to everyone equally in the future, which has yet to be seen, I might just be done complaining about my Shalrie's suspension.