Jake Gleeson and Liam Ridgewell will both be eligible to play Friday when the Portland Timbers open the 2017 MLS regular season against Minnesota United, Major League Soccer announced Monday.
Gleeson and Ridgewell were both arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Lake Oswego last October, prompting MLS to open an internal investigation into the situation, pursuant to the league's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health policy. Following the arrests, both players also underwent an assessment by doctors from MLS' Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.
The charges against Ridgewell were dropped in January after a judge ruled that officers did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to detain the Timbers captain, while Gleeson plead no contest to his charges in November and was allowed to enter an alcohol diversion program.
After completing their investigation, MLS made the decision not to suspend either Gleeson or Ridgewell.
Following the conclusion of the league's investigation and as part of the resolution of Gleeson's legal case, MLS announced Monday that Gleeson is continuing to participate in the MLS Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program and will be eligible to participate in all team activities and competitions as he continues on with the program.
Gleeson will also separately be taking a lead role in a new partnership between the City of Portland and the Timbers that supports Vision Zero, an initiative focused on promoting road safety. As team captain, Ridgewell will play a significant role in supporting the initiative as well.
Following their investigation into Ridgewell's arrest and dropped charges, MLS determined that no further action was required and announced that Ridgewell would be available "to participate in all team activities and competitions."
The league's decision not to suspend Gleeson and Ridgewell follows past precedent.
Neither then-Seattle Sounders midfielder Marco Pappa or Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong were formally suspended after being arrested on drunk driving charges in 2015, though both of those incidents occurred midseason and both players missed games to undergo assessments and treatment by MLS' Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program.
-- Jamie Goldberg | firstname.lastname@example.org
503-853-3761 | @jamiebgoldberg
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