It’s been more than a month since Marco Pappa has started a game for the Seattle Sounders. So his unavailability again this week, isn’t a new lineup challenge.
However, the reason for his absence – arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence, and undergoing an MLS substance abuse program – called for special comment from coach Sigi Schmid and general manager Garth Lagerwey after the club returned to training Tuesday.
Pappa wasn’t at the training session, and the reason for that was one of several topics Lagerwey said he wasn’t free to discuss.
"I don’t know that I can comment on that," Lagerwey said. "Part of any collective bargaining agreement, these things are negotiated with the union and I think the fairest way to answer that is to say that there are a couple of parties involved.
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Referring to the situation as "an ongoing legal matter," Lagerwey was reluctant to add detail beyond what the club had announced through a press release late Monday: Pappa had been arrested Sunday for investigation of DUI and speeding, and that he is ineligible to play until the league completes and investigation and Pappa completes an assessment by the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.
C.J. Sapong of the Philadelphia Union went through the program earlier this season and returned to league play about three weeks after the initial incident. However, neither Lagerwey nor Schmid would estimate of how long Pappa might be out.
Both implied the club expects him to be unavailable for its next match, Saturday at Montreal.
"We haven’t had him for the last couple of weeks, so it really doesn’t change much of anything," Schmid said.
However, he acknowledged that the circumstances of this absence is different from an injury or Pappa’s recent duty with the Guatemala national team.
"He’s a teammate and we need to support him," Schmid said. "I think all of us individually have probably known somebody or had somebody that maybe we’re even related to that’s gone through something like this, or a difficult situation like this. Right now he needs our support to come through this at the other end as a stronger person."