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Independent Panel denies Orlando City’s appeal of Cristian Higuita’s red card

Orlando City SC midfielder Cristian Higuita (7) leaves the field after receiving a red card in the second half against D.C. United at Audi Field. D.C. United won 3-2. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Orlando City midfielder Cristain Higuita will miss the club’s match against Atlanta United due to a red card suspension after the Independent Panel on Friday announced its denial of Orlando City’s appeal. 

Higuita was sent off with a straight red in the 55th minute of the Lions’ 3-2 loss to D.C. United after referee JC Rivero went to the video monitor and determined Higuita’s elbow to the head of United midfielder Yamil Asad constituted violent conduct. 

The Independent Panel consists of one representative from the United States Soccer Federation, one representative from the Canadian Soccer Association and one representative nominated by the Professional Referee Organization

In addition, the MLS Disciplinary Committee issued Higuita an undisclosed fine for failure to leave the field in a timely and orderly manner after he was sent off. Higuita disputed the call until striker Dom Dwyer intervened. 

Immediately after the match, coach James O’Connor called the red card “soft.” 

“You don’t get any explanations,” O’Connor said about video review after the match. 

“We were told in L.A. that if it was clear an obvious, then that’s the only time to interfere. If the decision is made and it’s clear and obvious and obvious that it’s a mistake, then you get involved. If it’s not clear and obvious, you’re not meant to get involved. That’s what we’ve been told multiple times. 

“My expectation is for the game to be refereed like that, having been told that. Again, I’ll have to see, I’ve come straight from the locker room.”

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