Sounders’ Clint Dempsey out 2 games; match postponed to Sunday
MLS officially announced a two-game suspension for star Clint Dempsey for a below-the-belt smack of Toronto defender Mark Bloom. Also, the game against Montreal was moved to Sunday due to snow.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Sounders FC’s weekend in Montreal got more difficult Friday — and longer.
First, star Clint Dempsey was suspended two games and fined an undisclosed amount by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for a below-the-belt smack last week of Toronto defender Mark Bloom, a punishment first reported by the Toronto Sun.
Then, Impact officials announced that Saturday’s game has been postponed to 1 p.m. Sunday, weather permitting, due to heavy snowfall expected in the area.
The delay is due to the safety requirements at Olympic Stadium, Montreal’s indoor solution to wintry conditions early in the season.
While the venue is enclosed, the roof cannot securely hold more than 3 centimeters of snow (about 1.18 inches), and Saturday’s forecast calls for possibly 4 to 6 inches.
“The weather is beyond our control,” said coach Sigi Schmid in a news release. “We will stay ready and prepare to play on Sunday and hope the weather cooperates.”
Those preparations will be without Dempsey, who will miss the Montreal trip and a March 29 home game against Columbus. He will be eligible again April 5 at Portland.
The MLS Players Union filed an appeal on Dempsey’s behalf, but the penalty was upheld. Under new league rules, if the Disciplinary Committee unanimously determines there was “violent conduct,” as in Dempsey’s case, an automatic two-game suspension is required.
“Obviously we’re going to miss him,” said Schmid, who indicated the team’s formation could change in the interim. “He’s an important part of our team, and I think our fans could see how much he helped us in terms of possession last week, but it is what it is. We have to deal with it. It just means it’s an opportunity for somebody else.”
One person who came to Dempsey’s defense Friday was U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. He told select reporters the punishment was “very harsh” and comes at a bad time leading into an April 2 friendly against Mexico.
Klinsmann said to outlets like The Washington Post and Soccer By Ives that he was particularly upset that Dempsey, the most fouled player in MLS since his August return, was the only one disciplined in a physical game that saw the USMNT captain fouled six times, his most as a Sounder.
“The persistent fouling continued throughout the game, and he’s getting punished for a reaction following all those fouls,” said Klinsmann, who felt Dempsey was on the receiving end of a red-card tackle in the sixth minute by TFC midfielder Jackson.
“Yes, (Dempsey) made a mistake, but if opponents don’t get penalized for consistently fouling, it only encourages them to continue that approach.”
• Sunday’s game will be broadcast by JOEtv in the Seattle area and ROOT Sports elsewhere in the region.
• Schmid said midfielder Brad Evans (calf) and defenders Chad Marshall (leg) and Leo Gonzalez (groin) were able to practice Friday as they recover from injury. Their availability for the game will be determined Saturday.
• Game notes from the team indicate the Sounders will debut their new pitch-black third uniforms against Montreal.
• University of Washington forward Darwin Jones, a Des Moines native and one of Sounders FC’s top homegrown prospects, will play this summer in the Premier Development League with the Sounders FC U-23s, a part of the Sounders’ youth development program.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184
On Twitter @joshuamayers