With Victor Bernaredez suspended for the Earthquakes upcoming match against the Colorado Rapids, who will step up to contain physical forward Conor Casey?
In an unexpected move by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, San Jose Earthquakes defender Victor Bernardez was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for endangering the safety of his opponent, Montreal Impact midfielder Lamar Neagle, in the 25th minute of their game on August 18. Bernardez, who was not disciplined during the game, will serve his one game suspension effective immediately. Along with Steven Lenhart and Jason Hernandez, both of whom received red cards against the Impact, Bernardez will be unavailable for the Earthquakes this Saturday against the Colorado Rapids at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Playing very physical against the Impact, Bernardez toed the line of what could deserve a yellow card on a number of tackles in the match at Stade Saputo. Entering the game, the Honduran defender was already one yellow card away from an automatic one-game suspension, but escaped that judgement in playing the full 90 minutes against Montreal. Instead, the Disciplinary Committee's decision to invoke a suspension leaves Bernardez one yellow card away from the accumulation penalty. In effect, if Bernardez had seen yellow during the match, a similar one-game suspension would have been levied, and he would subsequently be removed from accumulation suspension jeopardy in his next game.
Head coach Frank Yallop had mentioned earlier in the day that he was aware that the Disciplinary Committee would be reviewing key plays in the match, but he declined to comment on any specific incidents that might warrant action by the MLS review board. Yallop was still unhappy with the decision in the game by the referee to award Lenhart a red card and wanted to avoid going into detail on other events in that match. The aggressor on what was determined to be a double red card involving Lenhart, Montreal Impact defender Hassoun Camara received an additional one-game suspension on top of his one-game red card suspension. No other players, including Lenhart, were penalized for their part in Saturday's match.
The suspensions to Bernardez, Lenhart, and Hernandez -- along with the ongoing rehabilitation of midfielder Shea Salinas -- will severely test the depth of the Earthquakes roster this weekend against the Rapids. Veteran Ramiro Corrales and third-year defender Ike Opara are likely to join the San Jose back four, while forward Alan Gordon -- himself coming off of a two-game suspension -- is likely to replace Lenhart in the Starting XI.