TUKWILA, Wash. — The news broke suddenly Thursday morning that Clint Dempsey would have to serve an additional one-game suspension on top of the automatic suspension for his red card against FC Dallas on March 18.
The bad news was compounded on the training ground at Starfire Sports, where midfielder Harry Shipp was carted off the field in the late stages of the day’s training session with what the club described as an ankle injury.
Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey and head coach Brian Schmetzer both offered their thoughts on Dempsey’s additional suspension to the media after practice. What follows are transcripts of those interviews:
Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey
Q: Did Major League Soccer give an explanation as to why it’s taken so long to give Dempsey the extra game suspension?
A: We’ve had ongoing conversations with them. What I would say is, I would save the outrage for the content of the decision as opposed to the timing of the decision.
Q: What about the decision would cause outrage?
A: I say that, obviously, from my own opinion. When I saw the red card, I thought it was a soft call. When you have things that are reviewed on video replay, there is an understandable institutional reluctance to reverse plays that have been reviewed by replay, specifically when we talk about appeals, you have to prove things. My opinion doesn’t matter, it’s what I can prove. When a play has been reviewed it is very difficult to prove the opposite. I’ll give you an example: when we were successful in the Roman Torres appeal last year, when he was deemed to have committed DOGSO and not been the last man. There was not an on-field review, and that gave us more leeway in that circumstance to appeal that red card.
I think folks have to make their own decision whether you think the decision with Dempsey was just or not, that’s the decision that the disciplinary committee rendered, and we’ve got to move on and beat Kansas City this weekend.
Q: Did you appeal the second game suspension?
A: The only people that can appeal the second game suspension is the player’s union. It’s not an option for us.
Sidebar — it looks like the players’ union did not appeal the suspension, according to this follow-up tweet from Jeff Carlisle:
*sigh*. So now I'm being told that no *formal* appeal was made about the length of Dempsey's suspension. It just took that long for the various stakeholders to arrive at that decision. https://t.co/IBxpnsaW66— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) April 12, 2018
Q: When were you told of all this?
A: The conversation has been ongoing. We talk to the league all the time about everything. That’s what I meant when I started. We knew this was a possibility from whenever they suspended him initially. Probably end of last week, let’s say. In terms of timing, early this week. I’ve personally been out of town (at league meetings), so I don’t remember exactly when we were told. But that was something that was coming and they made the decision they made.
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer
Q: What was your communication like when it came to the possibility of Clint being suspended and how did it complicate your preparations for SKC?
A: Look, it complicates things but it doesn’t. Clint’s an experienced guy. We have guys on the team that can deal with those kind of matters. We’re trying to just push past it. I don’t agree with it, but at this point in time we’ve got to focus on Sporting KC.
Q: Would you rather that news come out earlier than a few days before the game?
A: Yeah, sure. You’re always planning for the worst-case scenario, you always hope for the best. Again, we’re pushing past this.
Q: Were you aware before the Montreal match that Dempsey would be suspended for two games?
Q: When did you first find out?
A: There was chatter back and forth. Those are things that are above my pay grade. I let Garth and Chris (Henderson) do it, the disciplinary committee, I can’t call them. Again, I’ll just repeat that we’ll miss Clint, I didn’t think it deserved a red card. He was slapping his hand away, and I don’t think it should have been two.
Q: What happened to Harry Shipp?
A: That’s why I’m in a little testy mood. Harry pulled up lame. I’m not going to speculate on what the injury is, but it is an ankle injury and he had to get carted off the field today. That was a blow to the team because Harry was one of the guys that was going to step in for Clint. So the next-next man has to step up and play now.
It appears that the disciplinary committee took a significant amount of time before it arrived at its decision to suspend Dempsey for an additional game. This time may have affected Seattle’s preparations for its road match against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, but the injury to Shipp is a particularly brutal blow to a club that will already be thin on numbers.