The Pittsburgh Riverhounds lost to the New York Red Bulls II 3-1 Saturday at Highmark Stadium.
Near the end of last night’s game versus the New York Red Bulls II, the Riverhounds leading goal scorer Romeo Parkes spiked Karl Ouimette in the back, earning him a red card and an indefinite suspension from the league.
As a soccer fan and Riverhounds supporter, I speak in the majority here: get this guy off the team.
Parkes is a talented player, as he’s made appearances on the Jamaican National Team and taken the USL by storm, scoring five goals in five games for the Hounds. But this is inexcusable.
It doesn’t mean Parkes is a bad person nor should he receive any sort of threats outside of the sport, but he’s committing a sin soccer fans in this city can’t forgive.
Soccer is growing exponentially here in Pittsburgh, from the local to the professional levels. It’s a grassroots movement, it can’t be stopped and should be taken seriously. The only thing that could delay or impede its progress happened last night when Parkes lost his head.
In order for the sport to strive forward, teams at the local level need an organization to rely on. Thus far, the Riverhounds have done an excellent job of this through academies, development leagues and events for local youth teams. This, however, is their most significant test to date.
There was a moment in the aftermath of Parkes’s assault, in which Ouimette laid on the field motionless. In that moment, it looked as if the young Red Bull may never play again. The spine is one of the most delicate areas of the body, with nerve endings twisting and turning like Lionel Messi on the pitch.
A deadly spike to the spine could lead to any number of life-changing injuries, including paralysis or chronic back problems.
This cannot be explained away as an ugly side-effect of a beautiful game. What occurred Saturday night was criminal—we’ve all seen people tried for less.
Thankfully, Ouimette suffered no severe injuries. The entire USL community is taking a sigh of relief, including Parkes.
We can’t always wait for the final outcome to deal out punishment. USL has done their part, suspending Parkes indefinitely. The Hounds will comply with his suspension, but it is not enough.
Highmark Stadium is beautiful, but the stain of this incident will hang overhead like a cloud, immovable to the winds of the Allegheny and immune to the deafening cheers of the Steel Army, until Parkes is no longer on the roster.
It is all too common in sports for organizations to wait until the court of public opinion finds them guilty to show morality.The Hounds are above this, they made the right decision.