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Joseph stunned by suspension

Revolution captain insists he isn’t ‘dirty’

SHALRIE JOSEPH Must sit out Saturday SHALRIE JOSEPH Must sit out Saturday
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / April 12, 2012
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FOXBOROUGH - When D.C. United’s Brandon McDonald was suspended by Major League Soccer April 3, Shalrie Joseph couldn’t help but notice.

Joseph knew the league was cracking down on reckless challenges, but seeing the disciplinary committee slap McDonald with a one-game ban for a lunging tackle on FC Dallas’s striker Blas Perez when he was originally issued just a yellow card raised Joseph’s eyebrows.

It was one of four retroactive suspensions issued by MLS last week.

“I know there’ve been a couple of instances where people have gone back and gotten a red card after plays,’’ Joseph said. “But I never thought I would be one of those instances.’’

Joseph is the latest player to be disciplined for a dangerous tackle, handed a one-game suspension Tuesday for his challenge in last week’s loss to FC Dallas that forced midfielder Ricardo Villar to be taken off on a stretcher with a foot injury.

The Revolution will have to play an important early-season game against D.C. United Saturday without their captain.

Joseph was told by Revolution coach Jay Heaps that the league was reviewing the play, which drew a yellow card, but, he said, “I didn’t even think twice about it. I didn’t think anything was going to come from it.’’

Joseph also was fined an undisclosed amount.

“It’s a yellow-card offense at best, which I got, and for them to go back and give me a red card is just frustrating,’’ Joseph said. “I’m really disappointed in the committee to see that as a red-card offense.

“It was just frustrating, and I felt a kind of hole in my chest, knowing that I’m not that kind of player. I’m not a dirty player, I don’t try to hurt anybody or go after anybody in this league.’’

The play occurred in the 62d minute as Joseph took a pass from Chris Tierney, losing the ball after his first touch.

“Chris played me a ball and I had a terrible touch and it got me in trouble,’’ Joseph said. “I didn’t even see [Villar] from the other side.

“I noticed the guy on the side of me, and once I saw the ball was there, I was just trying to lunge for the ball and to get it away from him.

“It was just late, but it wasn’t anything from behind or anything intentional or anything malicious at all.’’

Nelson Rodriguez, the league’s executive vice president of competition, said the play was clearly reckless.

“It’s from behind, it’s late, it’s not on the ball,’’ said Rodriguez. “It’s through the man, and his trailing leg also wraps around the trail leg of the attacking player, crumpling that leg inside of Joseph’s body and leg.

“And the mere result that the player was injured in and of itself almost makes it reckless.’’

Before the season, the parameters the league used for punishment had two facets.

First, all five members of the committee had to view the play as worthy of a red card. Once they agreed, if there was no injury, the committee generally would act only in extraordinary circumstances.

This year, though, the committee removed the need for injury to be present.

“The irony in this particular instance is that the player was injured,’’ Rodriguez said.

Villar is listed as “out’’ with a foot injury on the league’s injury report.

“I think what was unfortunate was that Villar did get injured and he did have to leave the game,’’ Heaps said. “So there’s no mistake that that carries weight with the disciplinary committee, and I think that sometimes weighs more than the intent.’’

MLS held player meetings with every team before the season to discuss the disciplinary committee’s continued emphasis on eliminating violent conduct, and also to inform players of their responsibility to protect their fellow players’ safety.

“We shared with all of the players and all of the league at the start of the year how this disciplinary committee would operate and what types of plays and challenges would not be acceptable in the league,’’ Rodriguez said.

Now that he has been on the short end of the changes, Joseph sees the potential for problems.

“I think they’re opening a can of worms, to be honest,’’ he said. “I think it’s going to be one of those things that everybody’s going to try to be aware of and be worried about when they’re playing the game of soccer, and it can’t be like that.

“For a guy that’s been in this league so long, for them to think I’m such a dirty player and trying to hurt somebody is kind of frustrating to me, but it’s something I’ve got to put behind me.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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