One of the more confusing moments in Sunday’s 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls was the yellow card given to Clint Dempsey. What most fans saw — even those who were watching on TV -- was a cross being played in, the whistle blowing and then play being stopped. A few moments after referee Baldamero Toledo conferred with the fourth official, he gave a yellow card to Clint Dempsey.
Even from the press box, all we saw was a Red Bulls player going down, but not necessarily who made it happen. No replay was shown during the broadcast or in the stadium, leaving us all to guess as to what had happened. Sure, it could be assumed Dempsey was involved, but it wasn’t until Simon Borg’s Instant Replay that we knew for sure.
We can now see that Dempsey basically shoulder charged Felipe Martins. What the Instant Replay segment doesn’t show is just a few frames earlier when Dempsey is scissor tackled from behind by Aaron Long. That doesn’t excuse the shoulder charge, but it does at least suggest that Dempsey’s shove wasn’t entirely unprovoked or even just a response to the earlier bump Felipe delivered.
In any case, a yellow seems entirely deserved. A red card would have seemed a bit harsh, as this was shoulder-to-shoulder contact. Being that a yellow card was handed out, it would also require the MLS Disciplinary Committee to be unanimous in its decision to suspend Dempsey.