Nigel de Jong suspended three games for tackle on Darlington Nagbe

LA Galaxy midfielder Nigel de Jong has been suspended for three games for his controversial challenge on the Portland Timbers' Darlington Nagbe.

Commissioner Don Garber said a day earlier that De Jong would be suspended, and the league confirmed the length of the ban on Friday.

Referee Allen Chapman only issued De Jong for a yellow card after the incident on Sunday, but the league determined it was worthy of further punishment. De Jong was also fined an undisclosed amount.

A league statement said: "While De Jong received a yellow card during the match, the Disciplinary Committee was unanimous that the action was a clear and unequivocal red card and the play was of an egregious and reckless nature such that the Committee must act to protect player safety."

The on-field ruling received widespread criticism, partly because it came just days after MLS had defended the high rate of red cards in the early weeks of the season.

De Jong also has a long history of controversial challenges, including two in 2010 that broke the legs of U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden and Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa.

MLS referees boss Peter Walton told ESPN FC that De Jong should have been sent off.

"In terms of the challenge itself, it was a missed red card -- I think everybody, including the referee, realized that afterward," Walton said on Thursday.

De Jong will begin serving the suspension with Friday's game at the Houston Dynamo. He will also miss the April 23 match against Real Salt Lake and the May 1 game at Sporting Kansas City.

Nagbe, a rising star with the U.S. national team, suffered a medial sprain to his left ankle but escaped a fracture or serious ligament damage.

He missed Wednesday's defeat to FC Dallas and remains a doubt to face San Jose on Saturday.