Clint Dempsey sent off after tossing and tearing up the ref’s book during crazy US Open Cup match

Fierce rivals Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers met in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup and the resulting match surpassed anything anyone could have dreamed up.

Down 1-0, Seattle were reduced to 10 men after Brad Evans was sent off in the 69th minute for a second booking, but Obafemi Martins scored an equalizer in the 79th minute, forcing the game into extra time. And it was in extra time that all hell broke loose.

Seattle began extra time with just nine men, since Martins picked up an injury after they already used all three of their substitutions. Rodney Wallace took advantage of this and gave Portland a 2-1 lead in the 100th minute. Then in the 113th minute, Seattle’s Michael Azira was shown a straight red for an apparent elbow, reducing the Sounders to eight men.

This enraged Clint Dempsey, who took what appeared to be either the referee’s book or a card off the official as he spoke to another Sounders player. Dempsey tossed the item on the ground, then grabbed it back and ripped it up. The ref showed the U.S. national team captain a yellow for this unusual act, then a red as Dempsey walked away. Dempsey had to be dragged away by his teammates. He then sarcastically applaud in a linesman’s face on his way off. If he wasn’t a local hero before, he definitely is now.

So that put Seattle down to just six outfield players and with that drastic of an advantage, Portland couldn’t help but score one more time in the 116th minute to win 3-1.

The atmosphere turned sour, with irate Sounders fans throwing things (including a trash can) towards the pitch, that the match officials had to be escorted away by police once the match finally ended — an unusual occurrence for a game involving MLS teams, let alone a fourth round tie in the largely ignored U.S. Open Cup.

You can see all of this in the full matchcast (the Azira elbow comes at 2:31:00) here…

If this was some kind of performance art to get more people to watch the U.S. Open Cup, it just might work.

4 comments

  1. Dustin says:

    “It was so bad that the match officials had to be escorted away by police once the match finally ended — an unusual occurrence for any game in the U.S., let alone a fourth round tie in the largely ignored U.S. Open Cup.”

    I’m sorry but have you ever PLAYED this game in the U.S.? In my 18 years I’ve seen Police escort the referees from every High School Play off game in Southern California. It’s a constant practice because people are stupid and referees can be killed. It happens regularly in NASL and USL Pro games too.

      • Yogi says:

        That’s fine then thanks for answering. MLS games are usually in a Stadium where the environment can be more easily controlled. I’ve reffed at Starfire before and it’s very open and accessible.

  2. Tony says:

    I don’t think it was an elbow. If you watch the referee talking to the players after he showed the red he is holding his hand up like he caught him with his studs. I think the red was for the slight stomp. Not saying I agree but I don’t think it was the elbow

Leave a Reply