Clint Dempsey gets a red card at US Open Cup, June 2015

Best of MLS Controversies 2015

No exciting season comes without a few flaps and dust-ups along the way. Along with the stunning highs of the season and tournaments this year came some equally dramatic controversies, too. 

Here are some of the ones that got people talking (and typing) the most, as voted by the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff.

MLSsoccer.com's Best Controversies of 2015

Controversy of the Year: Clint Dempsey rips ref's book, gets a red

You can't accuse Clint Dempsey of a lack of passion on the field. It's just that sometimes, it may come out in a less-than-productive way. Who could forget the rip heard 'round North America this past summer? That's when, during a US Open Cup match against the Portland Timbers, the Deuce lost his cool at a ref's decision to award the Sounders' Michael Azira with a red.

That left Seattle with only eight players--and led an angry Dempsey to grab ref Daniel Radford's notebook, throw it to the turf, and then, even rip it up. He didn't get away with it, though. Not only did Dempsey draw his own red card during the game itself, but he also received a three-game suspension and an undisclosed fine from MLS, and a six-game or two-year suspension from the U.S. Open Cup itself, whichever turns out to be greater.

Honorable Mention: All Lampard everything

While his old rival Steven Gerrard landed triumphantly at the L.A. Galaxy, the transition to MLS wasn't so easy for New York City FC's Frank Lampard. First, his actual debut game came delayed, over and over; when he did play, the early games were, errr, "inauspicious," and he didn't score for his team until September.

Luckily, things went better off the pitch for the former Chelsea star. He made the Guinness Book of World Records, scored honors from the British monarchy, and married his longtime partner.

And he's still got 2016 to make good for NYCFC--he said in October he'd ruled out an overseas loan.

Honorable Mention: Tissue-gate

This past April 4 saw FC Dallas face off against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park, falling to the home team 3-1. But the game, full of dramatic referee calls, ended on an equally dramatic note: "Tissue-gate." That's when, instead of a post-game handshake, FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja either blew his nose or dabbed his eyes with a tissue, before handing it to Timbers coach Caleb Porter. Pareja later said the idea was to "send a message" to all MLS managers about dealing with calls.

//www.mlssoccer.com/post/2015/04/06/fc-dallas-head-coach-oscar-pareja-hoping-send-message-all-mls-managers-tissue-gate

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.