NEW YORK (AP) Clint Dempsey will be a spectator for the next two weeks of Major League Soccer play. U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann might be the most upset about the decision.
Dempsey, the U.S. captain and Seattle Sounders midfielder, was suspended for two games by MLS on Friday for violent conduct toward Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom in last week's match. The MLS players union appealed but the suspension was upheld.
Dempsey will miss Seattle's match this weekend at Montreal and next week's home match against Columbus. He'll be eligible to return on April 5 when Seattle travels to rival Portland.
Klinsmann was not pleased that one of his key pieces on the U.S. World Cup team will be sitting at a time when finding his form is important. Dempsey is expected to be called in for national team duty when the Americans face Mexico on April 2 in Glendale, Ariz.
"A two-game suspension for that moment seems very harsh, and it comes at a very bad time for us as it throws him out of a rhythm before the game against Mexico," Klinsmann said.
Dempsey's action came in the 40th minute of Toronto's 2-1 victory. Dempsey hit Bloom in the stomach/groin area, a blow that was not seen by officials but was captured by television cameras. Dempsey said after the match that he was trying to slap Bloom's hand off his back and did not intend to strike his body.
Klinsmann noted the amount of fouls that Dempsey has taken since returning to the MLS last summer. According to stats from MLS, Dempsey has been the most fouled player in the league since Aug. 10 of last season.
"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. Yes he made a mistake, but if opponents don't get penalized for consistently fouling, it only encourages them to continue that approach."
Dempsey wasn't the only player to receive a suspension from the league.
Chicago defender Lovel Palmer was also suspended two games for violent conduct toward Portland's Maximiliano Urruti.
New York defender Armando was suspended one game for a serious foul against Colorado's Deshorn Brown and Montreal midfielder Justin Mapp received a fine.