Seattle Sounders FC will be without Marc Burch for the Western Conference Championship and MLS Cup, if they get that far.
On Saturday evening, Burch was suspended three games by the MLS Disciplinary Committee and fined an undisclosed amount for directing a homophobic slur at Real Salt Lake midfielder Will Johnson during the Western Conference Semifinal Second Leg at Rio Tinto Stadium on Thursday. If Seattle are eliminated by the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Championship, he will be suspended for the first game of the 2013 season. In addition to his fine and suspension, Burch will also attend diversity and sensitivity training.
“Major League Soccer has a zero tolerance policy in response to this type of behavior from its players or staff,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a statement. “While I understand and believe that Mr. Burch is remorseful, Major League Soccer is committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.”
The 28-year-old left back was a staple in the Seattle lineup this year, starting in 19 of his 29 appearances this season while also tallying three assists. Burch started both legs of the Western Conference Semifinal against RSL, going 90 minutes in both instances.
With Burch out for the duration of the playoffs, defender Zach Scott appears to be the most likely option to slide into his position.