As the San Jose Earthquakes make their preparations for a difficult road trip to Colorado this week, they know one thing for certain — goalkeeper Jon Busch will be watching from the grandstands instead of starting between the posts. Not because of a coach’s decision or because of an injury, but because the MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Busch for one game for "aggressively retrieving a ball" from a Kansas City ball boy during the Earthquakes last match.
The details of the committee’s decision and Busch’s on-the-record reaction are not surprising given the league’s promise, made in announcements given during last year’s MLS Cup weekend, to discourage play that is detrimental to the game. However, this particular incident, while egregious if true, remains shrouded in uncertainty.
Yes, accounts of Busch’s alleged action were quickly disseminated through social media from observers inside Livestrong Sporting Park, but to this day not a single shred of video evidence has been presented. That Busch was very clear in his comments that he has seen three different videos of the play and feels there was nothing warranting a suspension means that evidence does exist, independent review of those purported videos will apparently not occur.
Busch is rightfully upset about the suspension, and will have no choice but to sit out the one game against the Rapids. He is a fierce competitor and a unifying presence for the Earthquakes defensive back four. While not condoning his apparent poor behavior targeted at the Kansas City ball boy, Busch’s actions are more an indication of his desire to see his team succeed. Perhaps a question for another day, but shouldn’t the ball boys home and away be prepared to assist the players in restarting the game as quick as possible? On field shenanigans to delay restarts are bad enough, MLS doesn’t need the off field support to do the same. Hopefully the league sees fit to review those issues as well so that an incident like what came from Busch does not happen again.