After an offseason of speculation, Major League Soccer announced today that Portland Timbers players Liam Ridgewell and Jake Gleeson would not face suspensions for their involvement in a drunk driving incident in October when Gleeson rear-ended another driver. Both players will be available for the Timbers’ season opener against Minnesota United this Friday.
Gleeson and Ridgewell were both arrested on October 24th, the day after the close of the Timbers’ 2016 season, on charges of driving under the influence. Gleeson later plead no contest and entered an alcohol diversion program, while the charges against Ridgewell were dropped in January.
Speculation about the on-field fallout from the incident was common over the offseason, with many believing that both players could face suspensions for their involvement. During the 2015 season both Marco Pappa and C.J. Sapong missed games while going through the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, but neither was formally suspended.
However, while it appears that Gleeson has entered into the SABH program following an investigation by program doctors, the league has cleared him to play during that time. Ridgewell was not entered into the program according to the announcement.
Since the incident, Gleeson and Ridgewell have both been involved in the “Vision Zero” partnership between the Timbers and the City of Portland, aimed at improving road safety and promoting good driving decisions.
The MLS press release:
Jake Gleeson and Liam Ridgewell Available for Team Activities and Competition
NEW YORK (February 27, 2017) – Following an incident on October 24 in Portland, involving Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and defender Liam Ridgewell, the League conducted an investigation and, pursuant to the SABH Policy, each underwent an assessment by MLS’ Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (“SABH”) Program doctors.
As part of the resolution of Gleeson’s legal case and following completion of MLS’ investigation and assessment, Gleeson has been participating in the SABH program. During his participation in the program, Gleeson has remained, and will remain, eligible to participate in all team activities and competitions.
All charges against Ridgewell were dropped and following completion of MLS’ investigation and assessment, the League determined that no further action is required. Accordingly, Ridgewell is available to participate in all team activities and competitions.