U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn't happy with Major League Soccer's decision to suspend national team captain Clint Dempsey for two games.
• Grantland: Dempsey fading
The league slapped Dempsey with the ban on Friday, six days after cameras caught the Seattle Sounders star striking Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom below the belt away from the ball in Seattle's 2-1 loss.
Klinsmann contends that the sentence is excessive, and that other serious infractions in the game were overlooked.
"It's very disappointing to see Clint be the only person punished from this game," Klinsmann said. "There is a foul against him in the sixth minute that should have been a red card. The persistent fouling continued throughout the game, and he's getting punished for a reaction following all those fouls."
Dempsey has been the most fouled MLS player per 90 minutes since signing with Seattle last August. He was fouled a game-high six times against Toronto. The sixth-minute incident to which Klinsmann referred was a kick from behind by TFC midfielder Jackson, who was not cautioned by replacement referee Ioannis Stravrides.
MLS locked its regular officials out for the first two weeks of the 2014 season because of a labor dispute, but an agreement was reached Wednesday that will allow them to return to the field this weekend. Still, the league has long faced criticism for allowing its top players to be targeted by rough tactics.
"Yes, [Dempsey] made a mistake," Klinsmann said. "But if opponents don't get penalized for consistently fouling, it only encourages them to continue that approach."
MLS has adopted a no-tolerance policy toward violent conduct this season. After last week's incident, which went unseen by Stravrides and his assistants, Dempsey insisted he was merely trying to remove Bloom's hand from his back. But the MLS Disciplinary Committee denied his formal appeal filed through the MLS Players Union.
The suspension comes at an unfortunate point for Dempsey, who scored his first goal since October against TFC and was just beginning to rediscover his early 2013 form. He'll now miss Sunday's game in Montreal and the match against Columbus on March 29. That means the 31-year-old will be idle leading into the national team's high-profile April 5 friendly against Mexico.
"It comes at a very bad time for us as it throws him out of a rhythm before the game against Mexico," Klinsmann said. "A two-game suspension for that moment seems very harsh."