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MLS Disciplinary seems to have lost its way

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While looking the other way on obviously violent conduct, there are suspensions being handed out for over-zealous celebrations.

There's a player on the pitch!!!!
There's a player on the pitch!!!!
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The concept behind the MLS Disciplinary Committee is sound. Referees miss calls all the time and, especially when it comes to endangering opponents, that stuff should not go unpunished. Elbow someone off the ball, out of sight of referees, but caught on camera? Be prepared for a suspension. There's a certain justice to the process.

The DC doesn't always make the most popular decisions, but most probably agree that erring on the side of being too harsh is preferable to erring on the side of leniency when it comes to dangerous play.

But something strange has happened this season: Undeniably dangerous tackles and overly physical incidents seem to be getting ignored while tougher punishments are handed down for far less violent conduct.

Take two incidents over the past couple weeks. As detailed in a previous post, it looked like all the world Alan Gordon was going to be suspended for his blatant elbow to the face. To the shock of most MLS observers, the DC fell somewhere short of the unanimous decision it would have required to issue him a suspension.

Contrast that to this week's DC rulings, one of which included a one-game suspension for Vancouver Whitecaps backup goalkeeper Paulo Tornaghi. His infraction? Getting overly excited on the Whitecaps' late equalizer and running onto the pitch to celebrate. Here's the video:


You can see Tornaghi running a good 20 yards onto the pitch in an attempt to grab goal-scorer Sebastian Fernandez. That's obviously against the rules, but no one is remotely endangered here. Tornaghi doesn't come anywhere near an opponent and is clearly just caught up in the moment. It's one of those instances that would have sufficed with a fine.

Taken in conjunction with the overlooking of Gordon's elbow -- as well as numerous studs-up tackles from any number of players -- it's starting to look like the DC has lost its way a bit. Hopefully a course correction is coming soon.