SANTA CLARA, Calif. – In case you were wondering if the San Jose Earthquakes thought the punishment handed down to New York Red Bulls midfielder Rafa Márquez for breaking Shea Salinas’ collarbone last weekend was stiff enough, Quakes general manager John Doyle (above, right) had an unequivocal answer Thursday.
Doyle was left seething at the Disciplinary Committee’s decision to suspend Márquez for three matches and levy an additional fine, especially in light of the fact that the board also fined and suspended the Quakes’ starting winger, Marvin Chavez, for one game in response to the Honduran’s hard tackle of New York’s Roy Miller.
Chavez will miss the Quakes’ showdown atop the Western Conference with Real Salt Lake at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday.
WATCH: Márquez hauls down Salinas
“I’m very, very disappointed that Rafa Márquez only received three games, and that we lose Shea Salinas for eight weeks,” Doyle said in an opening statement to reporters. “I think that’s terrible for Shea, because he was playing great for us. And then the fact that Marvin Chavez – for him to get a game’s suspension for that, I don’t think that’s right, either. I totally disagree with the (Disciplinary) Committee.”
Doyle said he thought Márquez should have received “five games, minimum,” for the 42nd-minute incident, in which the Mexican national team captain rode Salinas to the ground on a San Jose corner kick. Márquez also delivered kick to Salinas’ upper body as the play concluded.
“We have a big home game,” Doyle said. “I’m disappointed for our fans, that they don’t get to see a player who’s been great for us. And we’ve already lost another player that’s been great for us. So for us, it’s a double hit.”
Quakes coach Frank Yallop was more measured in his comments, but was no more pleased with the situation than Doyle.
“Not much,” Yallop said when asked what he thought of the Márquez decision. “The length of his suspension is kind of irrelevant to me, but at least they did suspend him the extra games.”
The Chavez decision particularly incensed Doyle because it was one of “100 or 200 plays in a weekend” that fall into what the GM considers a “gray area.” Chavez and Márquez received the only two suspensions handed down by the Disciplinary Committee this week.
“I understand [suspensions for] black and white stuff,” Doyle said. “Rafa Márquez, it was black and white; he grabbed a player, threw him to the ground, the player broke his arm.”
WATCH: Chavez lunges in on Miller
To Doyle, Chavez’s tackle was no different than a couple of hard challenges that have been put to San Jose star Chris Wondolowski in recent weeks – plays that drew no further penalty from the league.
“You’re telling me that the tackle on Chris Wondolowski with [Vancouver Whitecaps FC defender] Martin Bonjour – from behind, at midfield, studs up, right through Chris Wondolowski – nothing?” Doyle asked rhetorically. “And then, Thierry Henry, who I respect as a player, he loses the ball, he tries to go for the ball with studs up – nothing there, either?”
Doyle, who said he was an opponent of creating the Disciplinary Committee in the first place, raised the specter that some teams are attempting to influence what’s supposed to be a neutral body.
“I think there are people who call [the league], week in and week out,” Doyle said. “Before we play an opponent, you should call and say, ‘Here’s 10 plays that are gray-area fouls.’ That’s where I think there’s a problem in the system.”
For his part, Chavez offered an apology to Miller and took responsibility for his lunging dispossession of Miller in the 52nd minute, which knocked New York’s left back from the game and the Red Bulls’ lineup for this weekend as well. Chavez said that he hadn’t been expecting a suspension for the play.
“When I first heard from the coaches that I was suspended, I was sad, because I like to contribute to the team,” Chavez said through a translator. “This is our livelihood, this is how we live, so I never want to hurt anybody.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.