On Wednesday night, Sporting Kansas City returned home after a huge win on the road to defeat the LA Galaxy 2-0 to take the lead in the MLS Western Conference (plus SKC have a game in hand). The game winning goal was scored by Johnny Russell and he and Graham Zusi had something special in store for the celebration. They headed to the corner by the Member’s Club and Russell whipped Zusi off the “ropes” and landed a devastating clothesline.
Let’s look at another angle, from The Cauldron.
Fox Sports 1’s Stu Holden added a little commentary saying, “the celebration is pretty good too. He throws Zusi into the ropes and says come on back and get yourself a little clothesline. Zusi sold that!” (Zusi with a classic “Kane bump.” If you know you know...)
That was amazing! In the 80s and 90s I was a huge wrestling fan and it finding it’s way into back-to-back Sporting Kansas City games is a delight. In the post-game press conference, after Russell yelled from the hall in good fun for John Pulskamp to “hurry up,” my Blue Testament colleague, Jimmy Mack, had to ask Russell about the celebration.
Jimmy: “Johnny, you had a special celebration after you scored your first goal. Was that your idea or how did that come to be?”
Russell (with a massive grin on his face): “Don’t know what you’re talking about. [Pause for laughter in the press room.] It was a bit of a joke. It was actually meant for Timmy. Me and Zues spoke about it just as a little bit of a joke. That was it. I should have went for the Rock Bottom or a suplex like Timmy but we settled for a clothesline.”
This isn’t the first time Russell’s celebration has drawn attention. Just this past weekend in Seattle, when Russell scored the game winner against the Sounders he cupped his hands to his ears as he ran along the side with the home fans yelling at him (watch until the end).
After the game, he addressed that as well.
“The celebration is a bit of fun,” said Russell. “I’m getting stick all game. I usually do here [in Seattle]. It was just a little bit of banter back. (With a smile) Some people can’t take it but that’s not my problem.”
Of course all of this wrestling talk is in response to Tim Melia’s takedown of Cristian Roldan. Or “Rock Bottom,” if you will. The Rock even weighed in on his technique. It’s gotten a lot of attention in recent days. We dedicated most of a podcast to it. Plus, the internet is undefeated with memes or delightful things being done with the video, like Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler’s commentary of Mankind being thrown off the Hell in a Cell by the Undertaker being superimposed over it.
Of course, Tim Melia picked up a one game suspension (that appears to have been appealed down from two games) and fines for the play. Sporting KC fans were upset in large part due to inconsistencies on other calls and Sounders fans thought it deserved more punishment, including some ridiculous folks calling for Melia’s arrest.
For me, it was always going to end in a suspension. It’s a non-soccer play even though the whistle technically hadn’t been blown yet and Melia is fighting to get his position back to defend his goal while Roldan continues to push into him. Plus, for all the angles on the slam, it all happens in a couple of brief seconds when it’s not in super slow motion. Peter Vermes didn’t have much to say when asked about it.
“I’d personally like to see consistency, throughout all the calls,” said Vermes.
That was in response to a question about Khiry Shelton going to the hospital by LAFC goalkeeper Tomas Romero and it not being punished beyond the yellow in the game. The play was much more violent, but Romero was making a clear play on the ball, he just blatantly missed and crushed the notoriously hard to take down Shelton. Romero received no retroactive suspension.
Another situation, that more closely resembled Melia’s situation, was last year when SKC played FC Dallas. Goalkeeper Jimmy Mauer made more of a football tackle on Gadi Kinda to try to save a goal but the big difference is that Sporting scored on that play and had that goal wrongly taken away.
In the Seattle game, Roldan actually committed the first foul, so no matter what happened next, no goal was going in because the play was dead. That’s why Sounders fans calling for a PK is ludicrous. However, I’ll admit I understand them being upset about the missed red card.
In the end, officials make mistakes. I’d argue they ultimately corrected the Melia one to the best of their ability (though it was of no aid to the Sounders) but the lack of retroactive suspensions for Romero or Bikaye Dibassy (Minnesota United) for his clothesline that injured Alan Pulido earlier in the season prove Vermes’ point that PRO and MLS are wildly inconsistent.
The best comment I saw on the whole situation is that it wasn’t raining over Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday, it was the tears from Sounders fans as they bellowed, moaned and crowed over the lack of “justice” for Tim Melia’s light suspension. Go look on Twitter or Sounder at Heart’s comments (our sister site). Fan is short for fanatic after all.