Things got heated this past weekend between MLS heavyweights, Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls. The two soccer teams squared off at BMO Field on Sunday for the second leg of their playoff semi-final. It was expected to be a competitive game, but it only took a few minutes before things got completely out of hand. It all started on the pitch where Toronto’s star striker, Jozy Altidore, got into it with New York’s Sacha Kljestan. After exchanging several pleasantries on the field, tensions continued to rise right into halftime. As the players left the pitch and headed off for intermission, Altidore found himself in a nasty scuffle with rival players.
According to witnesses, Kljestan and company initiated the brawl with Jozy inside a tunnel near the team dressing room. Toronto coach Greg Vanney didn’t have a clear look at the incident but has since given Altidore the benefit of the doubt. “I have witness accounts and we are working on the video of what happened,” Vanney told press following the game. “But Jozy was followed in, basically confronted and he turned around and from my understanding the next thing you know there were four, five or six Red Bulls people all rushing towards him at the same time and the rest we’ll see.”
In a post-game interview with TSN's Rod Black, Altidore apologized to supporters for the violence but ultimately stood his ground claiming that everything was in self-defence. “First, I’ve got to apologize to all the fans and all the people who came out to BMO...He tried to come get me from behind, choked me, pushed me. [Kljestan] found out the hard way he shouldn’t do something like that. I apologize for my actions but I had to defend myself.”
Unsurprisingly, Red Bulls players have their own version of the story. New York midfielder, Sacha Kljestan, says he was shoved into a wall by Altidore and was only protecting himself from an attack. Regardless of the whole truth, Major League Soccer officials have suspended Jozy Altidore who will not participate in TFC’s upcoming match. It's an unfortunate blow for the team who will take on Columbus Crew tomorrow night. You can check out the halftime event below via social media footage.