Seattle Reign FC’s Merritt Mathias will be watching her teammates from the stands on Saturday. That’s because NWSL Disciplinary Committee announced on Friday that it has suspended Mathias one game for an incident between her and FC Kansas City forward Shea Groom.
The Disciplinary Committee cites "major game misconduct, unsportsmanlike conduct detrimental to the League" in its decision.
Lying on the soccer pitch, FC Kansas City forward Shea Groom suddenly found her face pushed into the ground.
Following an aggressive run through the box on a corner kick early in the first half Saturday, Groom lay on the field after a missed header. But before she could get up, Groom’s vision consisted only of the Swope Soccer Village grass as Seattle’s Merritt Mathias shoved her face into the ground while expressing some niceties, apparently taking exception to her run.
Photos from ISI Photos match this description of the encounter, as does the below gif from the livestream. Shea Groom comes in hard to compete for the ball on a corner kick. While her knees are about at shoulder height when she collides with Mathias, there does not appear to be any intent to harm anyone. Presumably, Mathias — who was teammates with Groom at Texas A&M in 2011 — felt otherwise, and she retaliated.
Update: This video from a fan shows the incident well, and could have been what the NWSL used for its latest ruling.
Off camera, there were audible shouts from the crowd that continued well after the below video ends. Fans directly behind the goal certainly had a great view of the encounter, as the collision between the two players took place right in front of goal.
After the ball went out of play, the referee pulled both Mathias and Groom aside, but neither were given a card.
Groom is known for her work rate and aggression, which can sometimes result in responses like this from opposing players. Later in the same match she crashed into Hope Solo on another run in the box, sending both players to the ground.
Mathias is the third player to get suspended after a dustup with Groom. Both Chantel Jones and McCall Zerboni, who stepped on Groom while she was on the ground, received suspensions last season.
Mathias will serve the suspension during Saturday's match against the Boston Breakers. The loss won’t leave the Reign frontline — which has been beleaguered with injury all season — too shorthanded, as Manon Melis is likely to be able to start after appearing as a sub in Kansas City and the returning Naho Kawasumi will be available to play.