SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After picking up his second red card in the space of 11 regular-season MLS appearances, San Jose Earthquakes center back Brandon McDonald is hoping to refute the idea that he’s any kind of dirty player.
McDonald saw straight red in the 79th minute of the Quakes’ 3-0 win against visiting Columbus on Saturday, sent off after felling Crew forward Tommy Heinemann as the pair battled for position on a San Jose corner kick.
The fourth-year player is facing an automatic one-game suspension for San Jose’s match against New England on Saturday, unless the Quakes’ appeal is successful. McDonald returned to the back line after sitting out San Jose’s trip to Vancouver and Wednesday, and he helped the Quakes record just their second clean sheet of the season.
“Hopefully we’re going to try to get it appealed and see what happens, because I’m not that type of player,” McDonald told MLSsoccer.com. “I don’t want that to be an image created [about] myself. I just play hard.”
Quakes general manager John Doyle confirmed Monday that the team has put a call into the league to argue on McDonald’s behalf, although he knows the chances of having such a penalty rescinded are slim, at best.
“We think that it was embellished, that’s for sure,” Doyle said. “From everything we’ve seen and from Brandon’s [account], he didn’t do anything. We’ll do our best, but it’s always difficult, and overturning a red card is rare.”
The final sequence between McDonald and Heinemann began when San Jose lined up for a corner to the right of Columbus’ goal. McDonald moved up into the box from his station on the Quakes’ back line and repeatedly circled Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer while Heinemann — the man marking McDonald — chased him.
Eventually, the two players bumped into each other with enough force that referee Jorge Gonzalez blew play dead before the corner was taken to admonish them both.
Nonetheless, the duo went through the same routine a second time before McDonald settled in at a position beside the near post. As Anthony Ampaipitakwong’s delivery came into the mixer, McDonald’s left arm made contact with Heinemann, who went down in a heap. Gonzalez did not hesitate in reaching for his pocket.
“Nothing happened,” McDonald insisted after the game. “The guy came from behind me, I tried to knock his hand down and I turned around and he’s falling, holding his face. Nothing against the refs. I think the guy just sold it really well. The guy was holding me, I went to wipe his hand down, and ... red card.”
Doyle said the league's response to the appeal could come as early as Tuesday.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sjquakes