Kansas City Wizards defender Nick Garcia expressed "shock" at his two-match suspension and $500 fine, announced last Tuesday for violent conduct towards Columbus Crew striker Knox Cameron on July 23.
The committee's described that on the play in question, Garcia swung his elbow back towards Cameron in the 47th minute, shortly after Cameron had scored his second goal of the contest and set the Crew on course for a 2-0 home victory.
"It's one of those things, much like any other play -- a slide tackle, a good defensive play, a good offensive play -- that happens where Knox and I were going for the ball. It was all about positioning and me beating him to the ball," Garcia said.
"By no means did I intentionally try and hit him. By no means was I going after him or anything else, so for the league to come back a few days later and say, 'Hey, we're going to suspend you and fine you,' was a complete shock to me. I had no idea it was coming," he said.
"After the game and the next day, I didn't even think about that play. I didn't even dawn on me that something like that had happened. Obviously the powers that be in MLS decided that it was something that needed to be addressed."
Often throughout the course of a match, hard feelings develop between players who battle time and again. That was not the case here though, Garcia said.
"Beforehand, he and I weren't going at it -- we weren't saying anything to each other, we weren't scrapping or anything like that. It was just a routine play where I beat him to the ball and that was it," the 26-year-old, five-year MLS veteran said.
Some opposing fans could see Garcia as a physically rough defender, but he said he simply goes about his job the way he has his whole collegiate and professional career.
"To each his own -- certain fans have certain opinions and they're entitled to it. I don't think I'm an instigator, I think I'm a competitive professional, and I use everything within the rules of the game to get by," said the former Indiana sweeper who helped the Hoosiers earn consecutive NCAA titles in 1998 and 1999.
Bob Gansler, who did not see the supposed infraction occur, pointed to the records in defense of one of his back line mainstays.
"Nick has been playing well within the rules, and I think what substantiates that is that anyone can go and look up the number of yellows, but even more importantly, the number of fouls that he has committed each year," the Wizards boss said. "For a central defender, I think [Garcia's] is among the better records around the league in quality of performance and quality of behavior. I still want to see [the video], and we'll go from there."
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.