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Russell Fined; Sporting KC Appealing Red Card

The saga, from beginning to end, of the Johnny Russell red card against Houston, the appeal and now a fine.



Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City are currently in crunch time on the 2023 MLS season. They picked up an incredibly important three points last Saturday against the Houston Dynamo. What is more impressive is they did it while down a man for over an hour.

Johnny Russell picked up a red card in the first half before 12 minutes of stoppage time were added and another half was played. Here is the full video and the slow motion.

Much has been made around this website and elsewhere on the validity of the red card. No matter where you come down, Sporting KC are now challenging that red card according to former staff member of this site and current Golozo Show co-host, Aly Trost-Martin.

In Major League Soccer (at least according to last year’s rules) teams may challenge up to two red cards (including second yellows or a first yellow that proceeded a second yellow) per season, including the playoffs. Sporting KC have decided to use their first one to attempt to get Russell back before the critical St. Louis game this weekend.

Whatever the result of that appeal, more salt has been rubbed in Johnny Russell’s wound, as he was also fined for “failure to leave the field” after receiving his red. The KC Star’s Daniel Sperry timed it out and the red card goes up and less than a minute later the camera cuts to a shot of Russell heading into the locker room. We don’t even know when he actually left because the camera doesn’t stay on him. It’s also very unclear what’s defined as a “timely manner.” Likely intentionally vague.

Factor in that Russell was the captain and usually would be the person to speak with the referee and he had to pass off his captain’s armband. Additionally, both the referee and the AR were right next to the “foul” that was initially called a throw-in on the field, so an explanation seems reasonable. And you can see on the video, Chris Penso is talking to Russell from approximately 38:49 (Russell enters the frame but you can’t see Penso) to sometime before 39:17 when the camera cuts back to Russell walking alone (presumably off the field). That means it was definitely under 30 seconds of explanation, but that’s a chunk of the less than one minute to leave the field.

Part of that conversation, according to Russell’s telling, is Penso telling him it’s malicious and that he tried to endanger a player.

I personally, as Russell said the night of the incident, don’t think they’ll overturn the call. But we should know in the coming days.

Playoff Math: Where Do Things Stand for Sporting KC?

Update 3:38 PM CST: Appeal denied.

Unrelated, but it seemed worth noting all of Sperry’s work this week, Alan Pulido and Tim Leibold are back in training.

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