"This video is no longer available"

All of us owe a debt of gratitude to loyal BigSoccer member "bradd" who managed to preserve actual footage of the Blanco incident prior to it's mysterious disappearance:'

As to the original clip, Major League Soccer really needs to learn how to leave well enough alone.

When Blanco's meltdown finally happened, it wasn't even on their watch. League officials had to know that, given his history, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened, and surely dreaded the inevitable day when they would be forced to drop the sword of Damocles smack on the head of one of their biggest, most popular stars.

Instead, the man had the courtesy to indulge his road show Rage O'Rama in a US Open Cup match, thereby making the whole thing USSF's problem. MLS was off the hook.

The only time their name even came up was when DC United decided - apparently on their own, contrary to early reports - that they would be sending the video on to MLS HQ where it would likely be subject to much giggling and rewinding during coffee breaks but not much else.

(Still capture is from Luis Arroyave's EXCELENT POST ON THIS TOPIC which I highly recommend)

Then a funny thing happened. A full 18 hours after the brief video clip which showed Blanco laying an apparently pretty girlish smack on Clyde Simms appeared on YouTube, it was gone.

In it's place was the notation: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Major League Soccer, LLC"

Say what?

Now it's true that YouTube is routinely and tirelessly patrolled by minions of the English Premier League who zealously file DMCA claims on any video which dares to show even a smidgen of EPL footage. Ditto UEFA during Euro 2008 and FIFA during the World Cup.

MLS has always been different. YouTube is replete with MLS videos, game footage, compilations and various player highlights and hijinks set to every piece of bad music recorded in the last ten years, with the possible exception of Push th' Little Daisies by Ween.

Thank God.

Yet out of the blue, here they are demanding the takedown of a video clip from a game which isn't even one of theirs, presumably based on the somewhat shaky grounds that since they own the uniform designs that are depicted they have the right to limit the exposure of said uniforms in ways they don't much care for. Like, for example, assault and battery.

Of course we'll never know for sure just what their claim is, since no reporter will ever ask them and no MLS suit will ever say.

But the strangest thing about the league's ham-fisted foray into the Wonderful World of Censorship, the thing that more than anything makes you scratch your head is this:

In 2008, mlsnet.com implemented the "Quickkicks" video summaries of each game. Of note here is that, along with every goal and every big save and all the rest, they include clips of every card, yellow or red, from every single match. Many times, they repeat the incident in slow-motion so we can fully savor the carnage.

(Just as an aside, in case you didn't know, MLS Quickkicks clips can be embedded in BigSoccer posts, just like YouTube clips.)

So if this had actually been an MLS match, we wouldn't need a YouTube clip of this incident: MLS WOULD HAVE POSTED IT THEMSELVES.

For example, here's an ugly incident from last week that the league currently has available on their own website

Yet they have demanded that a similar clip from a game which wasn't under league auspices be taken down. Very, very odd.

It is also being reported that DCU does in fact have some video of Blanco head butting a DC official, although the Fire is describing it as BLANCO'S "FOREHEAD GRAZING THE CHEEK OR JAW AREA" of said DC official.

Um. Sure, Sounds likely.

It does seem fair to add though that it is highly unusual, even unheard of, for a "DC official" to trot over to the Fire bench and start hassling Blanco about leaving the field.

It is the referee's responsibility to see that he excuses himself from the field, and normally a coach or other staff member from the player's own team escorts him to the locker room.

I cannot conceive of why some United staffer would have taken it upon himself to start jawing at the guy, and that leaves aside the fact that it's a clear violation of the rules for anyone from DC to be in the Fire's technical area.

The USSF Disciplinary Committee will be meeting "in the near future" (my money is on Christmas 2009) to decide on what action to take. Which sounds ominous, but in fact about all they can do is ban the guy from US Open Cup matches for a while, a somehwat less than Draconian punishment.

However all that shakes out, it's obvious that MLS wants this swept under the rug. And while I can understand their desire to prevent, say, Jim Rome from doing 30 seconds on "soccer violence" with this tape, the cat is out of the bag, boys.