Tempers flared at the end of the Philadelphia Union’s Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 match against Saprissa last week.
A harsh tackle from Saprissa’s Ricardo Blanco on Union left back and goal line hero Kai Wagner led to a brawl, reminiscent of the multiple bench-clearing brawls between the Yankees and Red Sox. It was a dangerous and reckless challenge that could’ve seriously injured the standout defender, and his teammates came to his defense.
Head coach Jim Curtin would like to see the incident stay in the past though.
“Regardless of what we think and what we saw, it’s not something that we can appeal or ask for suspensions.” Curtin said of Blanco’s late game challenge in a press conference on Tuesday. “It’s in the past, and I spoke to my players to not retaliate in this next game and give silly fouls away where you’re getting yellow cards.”
Blanco was puzzlingly only given a yellow card for the offense. His Saprissa teammates Daniel Colindres and Michael Barrantes were both shown yellow as a result of the ensuing brawl, as did Union defender Jakob Glesnes and midfielder Jamiro Monteiro.
Curtin commended Blanco for later apologizing on social media to Wagner for the foul and mentioned that a tackle from Union defender Matt Real was also a very bad tackle in the same game that also led to a yellow card.
It was a game with extremely high stakes and intensity, and sometimes that boils over a bit too much. At the end of the day, no player was sent off and Kai Wagner is fully healthy for the next leg. The Union have to forget everything that happened last game, and focus on their second leg match at home on Wednesday.
“Bad tackles happen in this game,” Curtin said. “But at the same time we have a job to do against a tough opponent. The most dangerous lead in soccer is a 1-0 lead and these players understand that.”