Photo: Nigel Brooks
It goes to figure that the aftermath of a rivalry game, even one played in the pre-season, will have at least a couple stories that don't do the sport or the athletes involved anything good. Saturday's match between the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas was another example of just that type of situation.
The major event was the much reported spitting incident that apparently saw FC Dallas' Jair Benitez, a widely known dirty player, spit in the face of Dynamo midfielder Geoff Cameron after an exchange between the two. Cameron and Brian Ching engaged in a verbal confrontation apparently, initiated by Benitez that apparently led to the Dallas defender deciding it would be a good idea to spit on Cameron. Classy guy.
Benitez didn't deny the incident after the match, instead choosing the "it was retaliation to Cameron's similar act, which he did first" excuse. Cameron falt out denied Benitez's accusation and called him "an idiot".
Brian Ching actually brought the incident to light after the match, discussing both what happened and his general feelings about Benitez with the media. Ching was clearly bothered by what had occurred and made it clear that that kind of behaviour has no place in the game.
"He's [Benitez] a pretty dirty player." Ching said. "If you look at the games that he's played against us and some in the league, you don't need that, it's a pre-season game. He initiated that whole argument with Geoff and you'd like to see the league crack down on him a little bit more. It's not the first time, it's not the first incident and there's no need for that in MLS."
That was the only bit of less than desirable behavior from an FC Dallas player on the day. The second incident involved no bodily fluids but was still far from classy.
For better or worse, the organizers of the match placed the Houston supporters groups in a section in left field that was directly behind both team's benches. As one would expect from a group of 100+ supporters and a rather unbalanced score line, the Dynamo fans were in full voice and the Dallas players had no choice but to hear it.
Reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira apparently had enough of the chanting and gave the middle finger to the Dynamp fans, using his right of freedom of expression to let them know what he thought of them. In and of itself, flipping the bird is hardly a big deal. Ferreira is a human and has emotions, and even in a match that doesn't count for anything, getting beat handily by your biggest rival and having to listen to their fans sing and chant about is not fun.
That said, there have been several incidents across various sports of players making "obscene" gestures towards fans and generally the matter is dealt with by the league. The question now becomes will MLS do anything about the extra curricular nonsense from Saturday.
Given that the spitting incident was not seen by the referee and no officials saw Ferreira birdy either, to my knowledge, I expect both situations will be left untouched by MLS. It's there prerogative and they really can only act on the evidence provided, which in all fairness, is limited to second hand reports.
Then again, this is a heated rivalry and I doubt anyone will forget what happened this weekend when the two teams meet for the first time in the regular season. Games between Houston and Dallas are rarely cordial under the best of circumstances, so I expect things could get a bit rough when they next meet on the field.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear discussed the win and the spitting incident after the match: