The elusive NWSL Disciplinary Committee has issued a one-game suspension to Reign FC midfielder Bev Yanez for an elbow to Portland Thorns FC midfielder Dagný Brynjarsdóttir in their September 29 match.
The collision occurred in the 48th minute, as Yanez jumped into the air to win a header near half. Without looking behind her, it appeared that the Reign midfielder was trying to correct in the air to get a better position on the ball and flick it behind her. Unfortunately, Brynjarsdóttir was closing in behind Yanez at the same time, and the elbow Yanez used to adjust her path collided right with the Thorns midfielder’s nose.
The NWSL has suspended Beverly Yanez for Reign FC's final regular-season game for this elbow to Dagny Brynjarsdottir. Portland and Reign FC will jockey for 3rd and 4th on decision day. pic.twitter.com/TCEbiU90aM— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) October 8, 2019
A yellow card was issued on the play, but the Disciplinary Committee came back on Tuesday with an elevated punishment for the player who was given the nickname of the Sunshine Assassin by Reign FC fans. Regardless of intent — and Yanez feels like the least likely in the league to intentionally elbow someone — that kind of play has been given a straight red on plenty of occasions.
Brynjarsdóttir earned a yellow card of her own just a few minutes later for a lunge near the sideline that took Yanez out. To me, it looked like she was trying to slide to block the clearance from the Reign midfielder — rather than a deliberate retaliation — but there weren’t any clear replays of the incident.
Yanez will serve her suspension during the club’s final regular season match against the Orlando Pride on Saturday, October 12. She has been a staple in the midfield this season — playing the second-most minutes on the team behind Lu Barnes. Fortunately, Reign FC have already clinched a playoff spot, although the final round of the regular season this weekend will determine whether the team finishes in third or fourth place.
Reign FC has a few strong options to slot into the midfield to replace Yanez, who was named to the NWSL Team of the Month for September. The two likely candidates are Rosie White and Rumi Utsugi, who subbed into the match on September 25 against the Utah Royals — earning her first minutes since she departed for the World Cup in June.
A third-place finish sends the team to Chicago for their semifinal match. A fourth-place finish has the Reign facing the North Carolina Courage on the road. Yanez will be eligible for that semifinal match, which will take place on Sunday, October 20.