FC Dallas fined but escapes forfeiture after using ineligible substitute

MLS has fined FC Dallas $75,000 of general allocation money and an additional $25,000 for a roster violation during last weekend's match with Orlando City.

The violation concerned the eligibility of Dallas midfielder Michael Barrios, who was on the original starting lineup sheet submitted to referees 60 minutes before the start of the match.

But fifteen minutes before kickoff, FCD opted to make a change in which Barrios was removed from the starting lineup and replaced by Tesho Akindele.

Under MLS rules, Barrios should not have been added to the list of available substitutes, and should have been ineligible to play. Instead, referees allowed Barrios to take Akindele's place on the list of substitutes.

At this point Dallas was under the impression that Barrios was eligible, and he entered the game in the 84th minute, which ended in a 0-0 draw, putting FCD was in violation of the roster rules.

Orlando notified the league office of the violation shortly after the match, and MLS decided to act by issuing the fines.

"The referee crew's administrative error and decision to place Michael Barrios on the official match roster was carefully considered while making the decision to sanction FC Dallas for this rule violation," MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said.

"However, all of our clubs are aware of game day roster rules and FC Dallas should have removed Barrios from the official match roster."

In the wake of Orlando's notifying the league of the violation, there had been confusion and uncertainty as to how Dallas should be punished. There was speculation that FIFA rules dictated that Dallas should forfeit the match, which would have had a significant impact on the respective playoff races in the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Dallas is currently in eight place, but level on points with the two teams above them, Real Salt Lake -- who occupy the sixth and final playoff spot -- and the San Jose Earthquakes. Orlando is in 10th place, but just four points out of the sixth and final playoff spot.

But MLS said such decisions are left up to the league.

"FIFA delegates management of roster rules and sanctions for violations to the respective leagues throughout the world," an MLS release said. "There is no international rule for changes to a match day roster."

According to MLS, the competition manual clearly spells out the violation, but any punishment is left up to the discretion of MLS commissioner Don Garber, giving the league considerable latitude.

Garber could have ruled Dallas should forfeit the match, but ultimately decided that a fine was more appropriate.