The Clark Suspension

“Clark will serve the nine-game suspension throughout the remainder of the 2007 regular season, MLS Cup playoffs and into the 2008 Regular Season until the nine MLS games are complete.”

It’s official: the Houston Dynamo’s Ricardo Clark picked up the biggest suspension/fine combo I’ve ever seen; I don’t see anything in the release, or elsewhere, on punishment for Carlos Ruiz.

So, what are people’s thoughts on this? If you think the suspension is too high, at least the $10,000 fine won’t put too much strain on Clark’s reported $195,000 pay-check (details here). But no playoffs for Clark means there’s no question in my mind the player is being punished; there’s also no question the Houston Dynamo get caught up in that. Given all that, then, is Don Garber’s version of justice too much, too little, or just right?

UPDATE: It occurs to me I ought to say what I think. If interpreted as a form of protest against Carlos Ruiz’, um, on-field tactical decisions, I think Clark’s kick draws a lot of sympathy. But the way he did it – wailing away in front of god, Don Garber, and everybody – gave the league very little choice. In that sense, it fits; a statement really does have to be made. In terms of justice – and, here, I’m speaking more personally than practically – I accept that Ruiz is definitely dirty, but he’s rarely outright vicious, so I think the punishment fits well enough. I have, literally, never seen something so blatant that it can only be called an attack.

UPDATE II: It seems fair to give a dissenting view some pride of place. Sure, it’s an interested opinion – being the Houston Offside and all that – but it’s also a respectable case for casting Ruiz as the villain, or, at very least, seeing that he burns along with Clark.

UPDATE III: For the sake of equal time, Sideline Views posted an unequivocal defense of the MLS Commish Garber’s suspension…this makes me feel like a weenie.

The Rage of Ricardo Clark

First of all, is this a fair rundown?

“Things finally boiled over between the rivals in the 89th minute when Ruiz and Clark got tangled near the far post. While Ruiz was on the ground, Clarke kicked him in the right shoulder and was summarily sent off by Gonzalez with a straight red card. Clarke had previously been shown yellow in the 81st for a professional foul.”

“Ruiz was also sent off after the melee with a straight red after kneeing Clark in the back after the play. The Guatemalan international had been booked in the 17th minute, an infraction that put him over the limit for yellow card accumulation. He will now miss FCD’s next two matches.”

This came at the end of the Houston Dynamo’s 3-0 drubbing of the free-falling FC Dallas.  The thing is, I’ve seen the video several times now and what I saw was Ricardo Clark just hauling off and kicking Carlos Ruiz while he was on the ground – kicking him hard and with as much intent as you’ll ever see on a soccer field.  The baffling thing comes with this not matching my perception of Clark as a player; by that I mean Ruiz must have done something seriously painful for Clark to react as he did.

Whatever Ruiz did, though, it doesn’t really matter.  What Clark did was flat-out dangerous.  What if Ruiz sees it coming, moves the wrong way, and the kick contacts his head – which is how “el Pescadito” sought to make it look in a twist that is more than a little ironic.  I suspect – no, I know – a fine is coming and a whopping one at that, along with a suspension.  So, good as Houston looked, and good as I suspect they’ll be heading into the end of the season, this won’t help them.

Whatever happened, I’m still trying to get my jaw back up to where it should be.  What a moment of madness that was.

Oh, and Dallas looks like they’ll exit the playoffs as meekly as they have the past two editions.  Sad….