Austin FC forward Cecilio Dominguez has been reinstated by MLS following a suspension and investigation into possible off-field misconduct, the league announced on Wednesday.
Dominguez is now free to participate in all team activities, though his reinstatement is contingent on participation in "ongoing counseling," the league said in a statement. Dominguez will be evaluated by a program administrator from the league's Substance and Behavioral Health program, which will determine the specific programs Dominguez will participate in.
The player was suspended in April due to possible off-field misconduct stemming from a report of a domestic dispute with his partner. He missed five games during his suspension.
According to a report from the Austin Police Department, a redacted copy of which was obtained by ESPN, on the afternoon of April 8, police were called to the home of Dominguez's ex-partner "in reference to a possible domestic violence victim."
The report states that the alleged victim had previously told a "team friend" about Dominguez's abuse towards her. The report added that the alleged victim "was deemed to be in possible danger as suspect was going to be suspended from his team as a result of her mentioning his abuse."
Officers, including a victims' services supervisor and a counselor were called to the ex-partner's residence and were met by Austin FC's sports psychologist and a team support person. The alleged victim informed those present that she "did not have any allegations of any physical abuse." She stated that "there was some possible mental and emotional abuse, but nothing physical" between her and Dominguez.
A spokesperson for the Austin Police Department said at the time that the report was for documentation only and that Dominguez wasn't arrested, while no criminal investigation related to him was opened.
A source with knowledge of the league's investigation said it focused on whether there was physical abuse, and concluded that there was "not sufficient evidence to support any alleged instances" of such behavior. The investigation focused only on Dominguez's time in MLS. Dominguez was accused of domestic violence in his native Paraguay in 2016, but the source said that MLS was unable to obtain court records related to that case.
As for why Dominguez is being recommended to go counseling, while the investigation found that there wasn't any evidence of physical abuse, the police report alluded to verbal and emotional abuse. For that reason, the investigation concluded that counseling is a service that could be of benefit to all families where there's "potential friction."
That approach was accepted by Dominguez, MLS, and the MLS Players Association. Counseling has also been offered to Dominguez's ex-partner, as well.