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Atiba Harris Suspended One Game For Elbow To Carlos Valdes' Head

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An elbow to the head will not go unpunished under the Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee's watch. Vancouver Whitecaps striker Atiba Harris was suspended one game for his elbowing of Philadelphia Union center defender Carlos Valdes during a scoreless draw at PPL Park on March 31.

Harris tried to play off the elbow as being unrelated to an incident last year between the two players, but there has been speculation that the Kittitian forward hit Valdes in revenge. Valdes tried to separate Harris from the ball in 2011, but his attempt went over the ball and into Harris' lower leg.

Following the tackle Harris experienced knee problems and has tried to recuperate from them over since. The injuries have been attributed to Valdes because of the timing of the problems for Harris.

After Saturday's game against the Union, Harris was asked if he had gone into Valdes with his elbow because he remembered the incident from last season.

"No, I wasn't even thinking about that," Harris told the Providence's Marc Weber. "I was just trying to get the ball. It wasn't anything intentional."

The referee, Elias Bazakos, handed Harris a caution for his careless use of an elbow, but the Disciplinary Committee was harsher for the striker in part because of MLS's push to cut down on head related injuries.

Here's the official statement from MLS on the suspension:

Vancouver's Atiba Harris was also suspended for one game and fined for violent conduct that endangered the safety of his opponent. Harris elbowed Philadelphia Union defender Carlos Valdés in the 65th minute of the match between the Philadelphia Union and Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, and was issued a yellow card for the offense.