As of 9 AM Pacific Daylight Time today, Major League Soccer has suspended Barry Robson for kicking a ball away in frustration and towards a linesman in Wednesday's 2-0 loss to FC Dallas. The suspension was announced less than four hours before the Vancouver Whitecaps kick off against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
This is not a joke. Well, I should say, it is a joke; another condemnation of Major League Soccer's pathetic league office. But it's quite a serious one.
Look, I'm not quibbling with the suspension itself. Robson did lash out and hammer the ball out of play after another bizarre whistle from referee Matthew Foerster. That hammered ball was driven towards the linesman, and we can quibble about whether it was targeted accidentally or deliberately but it was a clear gesture of dissent and a one-game suspension would not be inappropriate. (Foerster only gave Robson a yellow card. Therefore, this MLS disciplinary committee agrees with Robson that the referee made at least one bad call. I wonder if that makes him feel better.)
But the Whitecaps - Dallas game ended on Wednesday night. Major League Soccer had all day Thursday and all day Friday to hand down a decision in the Robson case, simultaneously making the right call and giving Martin Rennie a fair chance to prepare for one of the biggest games of the season without his vice-captain and designated player. The Whitecaps wouldn't have been happy, there would have been argument over the suspension, but it would have been fair. Worst-case scenario, if they were all too busy jerking off over the start of the European season to watch the tape, they hand the suspension down this afternoon and rule Robson out for the equally-big Portland match.
Nope. Instead, and this is in the words of their own press release, they announced it Saturday morning with the Whitecaps due to play at 1 PM.
Major League Soccer seems determined to prove it's not a serious league. Every week they manage to do something face-palmingly embarrassing and this is it: compromising the weekend's biggest fixture with an act of what can only be called total, brazen incompetence. They might as well have gone down to CenturyLink and crapped in one of the goals.
I've watched soccer at a lot of lower levels in North America. NASL, USL PDL, youth leagues, regional setups like the VMSL and the PCSL, you can just about name it. I've seen a lot of things and I've seen a lot of incompetence. But I've never seen a league hand down a suspension more than two days after the event and only a few hours prior to the kickoff of a major game. Even the most amateur, part-time league office would think that was a little much. Well, guess what, MLS? You are once again North American pioneers, plumbing new depths in ineptitude.
I'd say they should be ashamed of themselves, but given the way they continue to run their league I'm not sure they feel shame.