Friday, May 08, 2009

WPS: Interesting Reactions to Actions and Non-actions...

The WPS disciplinary committee huddled and--one two three break!--handed out two suspensions in the wake of Sunday's St. Louis-Washington match. One went to Washington's Abby Wambach for the tackle on Daniela that landed the Brazilian a broken leg and Wambach a yellow card; the other went to Athletica defender Kia McNeill for repeatedly introducing Wambach to the turf via body checks that would have put an NHL player in the box for charging but did not draw any cards on the pitch.

It's an interesting precedent for the league to set, what, four weeks into the inaugural season, and I say "interesting" rather than "troubling" pending the ripple effects it proves to have league-wide. Both suspensions are clearly intended to send the message that chippiness is not the way to go, particularly when an infant league is relying on big-money international stars to pique fan interest and put butts in the seats, but I hope the suspensions have been accompanied by a stern talking-to directed at the center referee who allowed the overly physical play to go on unchecked. One of McNeill's tackles on Wambach was card-worthy on its own, and certainly by the time that one happened--the third such foul on Wambach in the first half, two by McNeill--a yellow should have been shown for persistent infringement. Retroactively showing two yellows, which the committee has effectively done in meting out the suspension to McNeill, is a huge nonconfidence vote from the league for that referee. And I still maintain that while Wambach deserved yellow for the careless tackle on Daniela, it was not straight-red-worthy, contrary to the implicit message being delivered by the league's suspension of her.

Let's hope for more consistency this weekend. I will be very interested to see how this ref handles his next assignment, should he be given one. Should he be given one? Based on last week, that's a great big no.

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