MLS's 20th season is slated to be a landmark campaign across all metrics. Major expansion has occurred both in New York City and in the Southeastern United States. A new CBA agreement with a limited form of free agency was ironed out, and player salaries will be collectively higher than ever.
Apparently, the MLS Disciplinary Committee is also planning to make a statement in 2015. It began with a slew of decisions after the season openers in week one.
An amazing eight disciplinary decisions were handed down by the committee, according to a release from Thursday afternoon. Three of them came from the same match (Colorado - Philadelphia). In addition, the committee rejected an appeal from Sporting Kansas City over Matt Besler's second yellow card and suspension.
First, Tony Tchani of the Columbus Crew was handed a one-game suspension and a fine for a 77th-minute challenge on Houston's Leonel Miranda. The linked video shows the nature of the tackle: late, high, studs up. It was only a yellow in the match, but Tchani was lucky, frankly.
Then there's the match between the Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union. The Rapids did not make a good account of themselves there, and the Disciplinary Committee took them to task. Bobby Burling will face an additional fine for failing to leave the field of play in an orderly manner following his second yellow in the 68th minute, reflecting another increased emphasis by the committee on player conduct toward referees.
James Riley was also suspended one game and fined for serious foul play, after kicking Andrew Wenger in mid-airwhile challenging for a head ball in the 81st minute. It's amazing that he escaped without a booking of any sort in the match, and referee Silviu Petrescu might just face some action from the PRO and the Disciplinary Committee after that.
Finally, Colorado was fined for violating the league's mass confrontation policy in the 97th minute. This, it seems, is the face of Mass Confrontation in 2015:
It will be interesting to see if such decisions are enforced similarly throughout the season.
Next we have a rash of coaches being punished for entering the field of play. In Orlando, Adrian Heath was fined and assistant Mark Watson fined and suspended for leaving the technical area in the 54th and 91st minutes, respectively.
FC Dallas fitness coach Fabian Barzan was fined and suspended for the same offense, also committed in the 91st minute of their match against San Jose. The video of that incident is somewhat amusing - Barzan is trying to get the ball back to the 'keeper and speed up the restart as his club trailed in stoppage time.
Finally, in terms of new punishments, Robbie Keane was fined for unprofessional conduct following his 81st-minute goal against Chicago. For those of you who didn't see it, since the highlight package cuts away from it (WARNING: Inappropriate, NSFW), you can view this hilarious gif.
In the last bit of action, the Disciplinary Committee turned down Sporting KC's appeal to Matt Besler's second yellow and suspension. It seemed a bit of a waste, honestly; that challenge was always a yellow card, for those of you who saw it, and he was already on a yellow. The failed appeal means that KC has one more appeal left for the season
So just one week has seen the Disciplinary Committee run roughshod over the league. Is this a harbinger of things to come? We'll have to wait and see.