(Reuters) - LA Galaxy midfielder Nigel de Jong has been suspended for three games and handed an undisclosed fine for a controversial tackle on Portland Timbers' midfielder Darlington Nagbe, Major League Soccer (MLS) said on Friday.
The Dutch international, who has earned nicknames such as "The Destroyer" and "Lawnmower" because of his aggressive playing style, was penalized for his strong challenge on Nagbe in the 73rd minute of Sunday's 1-1 draw in Los Angeles.
Though de Jong, 31, was given a yellow card by the match referee following the incident at the Galaxy's StubHub Center, a MLS disciplinary committee unanimously agreed that the midfielder's actions merited "a clear and unequivocal red card".
In a statement, MLS said that the play "was of an egregious and reckless nature such that the committee must act to protect player safety."
Nagbe, an emerging talent with the United States national team, suffered an ankle sprain and contusion and was taken off the field on a stretcher. He did not play in the Timbers' 3-1 loss to Dallas on Wednesday.
De Jong, who played more than 100 games for Manchester City and has been capped 80 times by the Netherlands, has established a long-standing reputation for controversial and often late challenges.
In March 2010, he broke the leg of U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden in an international friendly and just seven months later he left Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa with a double fracture of his left tibia and fibula in an English Premier League match.
De Jong will start his suspension with Friday's game at the Houston Dynamo, and will also miss the April 23 match against Real Salt Lake and the May 1 game at Sporting Kansas City.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both)