What an exciting Dirty River Derby eh? I still maintain that Kenney Walker is the best player on this team. His dynamism in the midfield is really what makes this team work. He is one of the few guys with the confidence to play the ball through the midfield under pressure, and maybe the only guy on defense that does not just boot the ball forward at the first sign of an opponent's shirt.
Oh what’s that? Djiby was suspended for biting a player? No, please no. I want to talk about soccer.
Kenney Walker’s free kick ability is going to make a Sports Center Top 10 list this year. He was just inches high on Saturday and he . . .
The teams aren’t allowed to comment on the incident? Louisville’s coach called out one of our own? And he still blames our front office for summer being a thing?
And we were so close to getting to talk about soccer. . .
First off, can a league handle this any worse than the USL has? The league originally did not comment on the allegations coming from Louisville’s coach, just letting the clubs trade official statements. Then we finally get the discipline report on Wednesday and we learn the league has banned Djiby for 6 games, including one non-league game in the Open Cup (which I would love to hear how that works). But that incident report failed to mention why Djiby was being disciplined. Until it did, a few hours later, when it was quietly revised to say the suspension was due to the alleged bite. But now the teams are not allowed to discuss the issue. Whew. On the bright side, USL must be officially D2 now, since they have proven they can be just as dysfunctional as the NASL.
Now about that bite. Consider Djiby, a 15 year veteran who has played all over the world in front of hostile crowds, Europa League fixtures to places nobody goes to on purpose, and has played against some of the meanest defenders the planet has to offer. He has represented his home country of Senegal in two friendlies against Oman and Iran. That’s 230-ish games, and Djiby has managed to get two red cards. Two. One of them being on Saturday against Louisville. If Djiby is a dirty player, he is either the single sneakiest dirty player to ever play this sport, or he is really bad at being a dirty player. On the other hand he might also just be not a dirty player, if you will allow yourself to entertain that idea.
And Djiby has, apparently, bit the face of a Louisville City player. The face. That’s a intense place to be biting someone. Luis Suarez, world famous soccer biter, has bit two guys on the arm and one guy on the collar bone. Never in the face. And Djiby managed to bite another player in the sneakiest way possible, since there still is no clear video of photo evidence of this happening. Despite TV cameras, official team photographers, local press photographers, and members of the crowd with cameras, nobody has any concrete proof that anyone was bitten. Which has been exciting for the internet, letting Twitter play Zapruder-Film-Cinematographer and allowing Reddit to analyze pixels for signs of photoshopping. But in America, you are innocent until proven guilty. No proof, not guilty.
While piling on referees that make just a few hundred dollars a game is not a good look, more could have been done here. The match was already testy with hard challenges and players getting in each other’s faces. More yellow cards earlier on could have cooled the tension for what happened later in the game. Also the fact that Djiby was issued a straight red card, and then left alone by the referee was a bizarre choice. Djiby was then allowed to be surrounded by Louisville City players and the alleged incident occurred. This is not to blame the referee for anything that may or may not have happened, but more could have been done. And when it is your job is to officiate and facilitate a match, these kinds of mistakes cannot happen.
Put all of that aside for a moment. Djiby is our guy. He is a part of our club and its short history. Djiby is the league’s leading goal scorer. His experience and expertise has been tremendous. Just look at how he assumed the role of air traffic controller on his third goal against St. Louis, moving Mansaray to the back post to open up enough space that he could get his head to Kenney Walker’s (swoon) cross. That is exactly why Seattle has Victor on loan here, to teach their promising young player how to be an effective forward. That’s Djiby. He is our man. And in the face of a bullshit allegation from our rival, it is disappointing to see so many fans ready to toss him aside. Nothing Djiby is accused of is enough to call for his head. And considering the validity of the claims there is absolutely no reason to be throwing our guy under the bus. Even our front office stands behind him. And if that makes Louisville fans mad, then that is just the cherry on top. Villains pop up in sports, and the consensus is, if they are on your team, you love them. That is not to say Djiby is a villain, he is not, he has not done enough to earn the title of villain. But if the rest of the league is going to paint him with that brush, then he is our villain. He is FC Cincinnati's Chad Johnson or Brandon Phillips; hate them all you want, we know you wish they were on your team.
FC Cincinnati is our club and we support our own. We will move past this, Djiby will too, and we will continue to dominate our friends in the East. And one day, maybe, just maybe, we will get to talk about soccer on this blog.