Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Espinoza's Punch

One of the big talking points of last night's win was the altercation around the 65th minute that involved Sporting KC's Roger Espinoza. In the 66th minute, with KC trailing 1-0, Sporting was driving forward looking for an equalizer. As Espinoza moved forward, playing the ball ahead to Dom Dwyer, he ran into Ricardo Clark, who had raised his elbow as Espinoza ran into him. Seconds later, Dwyer was fouled by Leonel Miranda in a very dangerous position at the top of the box.
Espinoza though had taken exception to the fact that Clark had raised his elbow up as Espinoza came in. With Clark already on a yellow at the time, Espinoza seems to have felt that the challenge was a foul itself and should have resulted in Clark being the second Houston Dynamo player to be sent off on the night and Espinoza let Clark know about it. David Horst came in and gave Espinoza a shove to separate the two players as the two teams came together. Referee Ted Unkel stepped in and attempted to regain order. For a moment it appeared that he had as the players started to get set up for the free kick. Then on the broadcast the camera angle changes to show the entire team and you catch Espinoza and Brad Davis together with Espinoza appearing to throw a punch at the Dynamo captain and landing on his chin. Davis and his teammates immediately throw their hands up looking to see if the referee saw it, but Unkel had his back to the pair getting the play set up for the free kick. You can see the punch in slo-mo here.
From there Unkel pulled the two aside with Sporting captain Matt Besler and told the two to calm down. Seconds after he was done though Davis was back in Espinoza's face and eventually Unkel just gave both Espinoza and Davis a yellow card.
In reality, Espinoza was lucky to stay on the field (and you can argue the same about Clark since he was already on a yellow at the time) for the punch he threw against Davis. And I'd suspect that US Soccer will review the tape and Espinoza is likely going to miss time in the US Open Cup. I would expect Espinoza to miss at least the semifinal against Real Salt Lake on August 12th due to a retroactive suspension, and wouldn't be surprised if he's out longer when US Soccer comes down with their review of the incident. US Soccer hasn't ruled on an incident like this in the recent past, but they have recently handed down suspensions to Clint Dempsey and Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Both players received six game or two year suspensions from the US Open Cup, whichever is longer, Dempsey for taking the referee's book and tearing it, while Blanco was suspended for punching DC United player Clyde Simms and poking him in the eye, he also head butted a DC United employee as he was being escorted off the field.
Hopefully any suspension for Espinoza isn't anywhere near that severe, but we'll see, if he is suspended KC at least has Paulo Nagamura available to step into his role in the midfield if Espinoza is out.

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