May 20th, 2024

Toronto FC hit hard by suspensions following initial review of NYCFC post-game melee


By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on May 15, 2024.

Toronto FC forward Prince Owusu (99) is restrained by team staff members after MLS action against New York City FC in Toronto, Saturday, May 11, 2024. Toronto FC will be missing its coach and five players through suspension for Wednesday's game at Nashville SC after the MLS Disciplinary Committee handed down its initial verdict on Saturday night's ugly post-game melee with New York City FC. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Toronto FC will be missing its coach and four players through suspension for Wednesday’s game at Nashville SC after the MLS Disciplinary Committee handed down its initial verdict on Saturday night’s ugly post-game melee with New York City FC.

Five other TFC players are out injured. One of them, fullback/wingback Richie Laryea, is both injured and suspended.

On Wednesday morning, the league announced one-game bans for coach John Herdman, goalkeeper Sean Johnson and Laryea. The decisions take care of who’s available for the Nashville game, with more sanctions possible.

“The MLS Disciplinary Committee continues to assess the incident and those involved for further discipline and will announce complete findings and sanctions at a later date,” the league said in a statement.

Toronto forward Prince Owusu and New York City FC defender Strahinja Tanasijevic each received red cards for their involvement in the post-match incident. Those ejections were not immediately listed on the league’s game summary.

Tanasijevic will serve his red card suspension against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.

Laryea, who is recovering from hamstring surgery, was a spectator on the weekend at BMO Field.

The NYCFC game had already triggered suspensions for Toronto’s Federico Bernardeschi and Kevin Long.

Bernardeschi, the only Toronto player to start every league game this season, was sent off after confronting referee Lukasz Szpala at the final whistle and receiving a second yellow. Long was cautioned in the 53rd minute, earning a one-match ban for yellow card accumulation.

The teams clashed after the final whistle with Johnson, Owusu and Tanasijevic in the thick of a rolling maul that numbered some 30 players and staff at one point. Toronto captain Jonathan Osorio said Johnson, a former NYCFC captain, had been head-butted in the melee.

Herdman bumped New York coach Nick Cushing as he left the field, with a NYCFC staffer pushing the Toronto coach away.

The post-game clash led to a war of words. Herdman and Osorio said the ill will stemmed back to a 2-1 loss at Yankee Stadium on March 16, alleging a 19-year-old Toronto player was punched in the face by Cushing at halftime in the stadium tunnel.

They did not identify the player but the age fits Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, who opened the scoring in the March game.

Cushing has denied hitting anyone. Herdman, meanwhile, said nothing came of the alleged incident because the cameras in the area didn’t capture it.

Toronto’s Osorio, Marshall-Rutty, Shane O’Neill and Brandon Servania will miss Wednesday’s game through injury.

Toronto (6-5-1) goes into mid-week play in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Nashville, which stands 13th in the East at 2-4-5, is coming off a 1-0 loss at Charlotte FC.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2024.

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