Critical Investigation of Recent Altercations in Major League Soccer

Recently, Major League Soccer concluded its investigation into a series of altercations involving New York City FC and Toronto FC. The league issued a statement rebuking the behavior of players and staff from both teams, citing poor judgment and behavior contradictory to MLS values. Despite the rebuke, no additional fines or suspensions were handed out. It was also mentioned that head coaches and executives from both clubs were required to meet with MLS Commissioner Don Garber to discuss League expectations for behavior and conduct.

The incidents began on March 16 during a match where a confrontation erupted in the tunnel between the two teams at halftime. Nearly two months later, another altercation occurred at BMO Field following a NYCFC victory on May 11. The situation escalated further when an on-field brawl broke out, involving several players such as TFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson and NYCFC’s Strahinja Tanasijevic. Subsequently, Prince Osei Owusu and Tanasijevic were red carded, and Herdman, Johnson, and Richie Laryea received one-game suspensions.

Controversial Accusations

During a post-game news conference, TFC manager John Herdman made a serious accusation against NYCFC counterpart Nick Cushing. Herdman claimed that Cushing had punched one of his players, specifically Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, during the tunnel altercation on March 16. Despite admitting that the available video evidence did not support his claims, Herdman stood by his statement, emphasizing the importance of supporting his players and speaking honestly.

Denial and Disagreement

In response to Herdman’s accusations, Cushing vehemently denied any involvement in the alleged altercation. He categorically denied punching or assaulting any Toronto FC player or staff member and expressed shock and upset over the accusations made against him. NYCFC sources suggested that the league’s statement did not sufficiently address the situation and believed that Cushing should have been exonerated. Additionally, the organization took issue with the way Herdman’s accusations were presented, further adding to the contentious nature of the situation.

Although the two teams do not have any scheduled matches for the remainder of the season, there is a possibility of them facing off in the MLS Cup playoffs. The unresolved tension and differing perspectives between the clubs and individuals involved in the altercations may have lasting implications on their interactions in the future. It remains to be seen how the league will address and prevent similar incidents moving forward to uphold its values and standards of conduct.


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