Friday, May 24, 2024

Brawl breaks out between MLS’ Toronto FC and NYCFC following match in wild scene


Soccer matches can get very heated on the pitch, but it escalated into a brawl between Major League Soccer’s New York City FC and Toronto FC during their match Saturday night. 

Tensions boiled over following the final whistle of NYCFC ‘s 3-2 win over Toronto at BMO Field, where a massive altercation broke out between the two teams with punching allegations swirling from it. 

Though it is unclear what started the brawl, Toronto’s goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, found himself in the middle of the scrum, and it appeared he kept trying to go after NYCFC’s Strahinja Tanasijević. Johnson can be seen pointing and pushing Tanasijević before players and coaches all try to step in to calm the storm. 


Toronto FC forward Prince Osei Owusu is restrained by team staff members after the match against New York City FC on Saturday, May 11, 2024, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

But that only seemed to make things worse. 

Johnson was seen at one point sprinting toward the NYCFC center back, wrapping him up and putting his head up against his as many others tried to pull them apart. 

However, it wasn’t just players getting into it. Both head coaches – Toronto’s John Herdman and NYCFC’s Nick Cushing – were seen in the altercation bumping into each other and having some words before being separated. 


And then came the allegations once the dust settled, as Herdman claimed Cushing “punched” one of his 19-year-old players at their previous match in New York “in the face.”

“That was the off record report that came into the dressing room at halftime who said he got [cornered] and punched in the face,” Herdman said, per The Athletic. 

Toronto FC head coach John Herdman reacts during match

Head coach of Toronto FC John Herdman gestures during the New York City match at BMO Field in Toronto on May 11, 2024. (Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Cushing vehemently denied Herdman’s claim by saying, “I can honestly say as a head coach – I’ve done 348 games – I’ve never ever laid a finger on a player.”

So there was prior hostility between these two teams, and Toronto’s captain, Jonathan Osorio, alluded to that, adding to the tension getting too high. 

“There was a lot of animosity from what happened last time.… I understand maybe our emotions got the best of us a little bit, but we were talking, we weren’t being physical or nothing. But this is the second time now that they have gone physical now with our players. That’s how it started, and that’s how it gets out of control,” Osorio said. 

No matter what caused the altercation, the MLS will surely be handing out some discipline to those directly involved in starting the brawl. 

NYCFC and Toronto FC altercation

Players of New York City FC and Toronto FC after the match at BMO Field in Toronto on May 11, 2024. (Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu via Getty Images)


Looking at MLS standings, NYCFC is two points behind Toronto, which sits in fourth place with 19 on the season at 6-1-5. NYCFC is 5-2-5 to begin the new season. 

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