Clint Dempsey has been suspended for three matches and fined an undisclosed amount of money after he was red carded for tearing up the referee's logbook and then stormed off the pitch in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup game against the Portland Timbers.
"We do not tolerate conduct of this nature from any of our players," MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said in a statement. "No matter how passionate our players are or what happens in the ‘heat of the moment,' they must always respect all aspects of the game, especially the referees. In light of Clint's actions and our past precedents, we felt that a significant suspension was appropriate."
Although MLS has never taken this stern of action for events that occurred in a match outside of a league competition, it is less severe than the U.S. Soccer handbook suggested was at least possible. At one point, it had been suggested that MLS could be forced to suspend Dempsey as long as six months. But even a more nuanced reading of the rules suggested MLS may have to suspend Dempsey for as many as six games.
The three-game suspension is hardly nothing, of course. Dempsey will be forced to sit out Saturday's home game against the San Jose Earthquakes, the following week's game at the Philadelphia Union and the June 28 match at the Portland Timbers, a team against whom Dempsey has enjoyed much success.
The length of the suspension also makes it possible for Dempsey to participate in this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup, which doesn't start until July 7. A six-game ban would have kept him out of that competition until after the quarterfinals.