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Columbus Crew SC disagree with Jonathan Mensah’s red card, likely to appeal

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Gregg Berhalter said there is a “strong possibility” the Black & Gold appeal the defender’s sending off.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There were no excuses made for Columbus Crew SC’s 3-1 result at the Houston Dynamo over the weekend as the team returned to training at the EAS Training Center on Monday.

“Obviously disappointed in the game,” Gregg Berhalter said. “The focus for us is looking forward. Obviously there is disappointment, but it’s a long season and what we have to do is look at what was good, look at what was bad, look at how we performed and move forward.”

What the head coach did want to look back on was the 87th minute red card issued to Black & Gold defender Jonathan Mensah for “violent conduct.”

At first glance, the description of the sending off seems just, as Jonathan’s studs are exposed and he certainly makes contact with Alex.

There’s no doubt what referee Chris Penso saw, but upon further review, the challenge is not as bad, at least in the eyes of Crew SC.

“I saw the red card for Jonathan in the last game. I don’t think it was a red card,” fellow center-back Nicolai Naess said on Monday morning.

“My impression is I don’t think it’s a red card,” Berhalter agreed. “I think there’s a strong possibility we’re going to appeal it based on the grounds that it was given for violent conduct and we think that Jonathan just slipped. He slipped as he’s passing the ball. There was no intent to tackle the player. So we’ll see what happens.”

Berhalter makes two good points. Not only did Jonathan slip on the wet surface, but he attempted to play the ball away from Alex, which appears to cause his cleats to come up as he followed through on the strike.

Whether the league sees this as enough to overturn the red card and take away Jonathan’s suspension heading into Columbus’ road game with D.C. United on Saturday is yet to be seen.

In the meantime, the Black & Gold plan to prepare for this game as if the starting center back will not play. Over the offseason, Berhalter made multiple additions at the position and the depth should be there to provide cover if Jonathan misses out.

“One or more of them is going to have to step in,” the coach said. “So we’ll have someone ready.”

Veteran defender Josh Williams appears the most likely to be selected, but rookies Alex Crognale and Lalas Abubakar, who was on the bench this weekend, are options as well.

“Both Alex Crognale and Lalas know how to play,” Naess said. “They’ve been with the team for some months now and they know how we play and how the coach wants us to play. And you have Josh with the experience.”

While Naess would like to continue to play alongside his new central defender partner in Jonathan, who was also acquired during the offseason, he said he is comfortable working with any of the center backs and confident they can get the job done in D.C.

“I train with the guys and I’m ready to play with anybody,” Naess said.

“I’m sure the other center backs on the team are ready to step up and do the job if they get called on.”

According to the Major League Soccer rules, “Within 24 hours after the completion of a match a Club may request a review of a send-off to rectify a case of serious and obvious error of the disciplinary decision of the Referee.”

It is unclear how strict this timeline is and if Crew SC already submitted the proper paperwork.

Each team only gets two appeals per season. Also if an appeal is deemed frivolous by the ruling body, a club can risk forfeiture of both appeals for the year, something to consider before making a decision.

Massive Report will continue to follow this story and provide updates on if/when the Black & Gold appeal and when any subsequent decision is made.