|photo by Matt Kremkau
by Dan Feuerstein
The Worst moment in New York Red Bulls/MetroStars history has finally come to a temporary conclusion. When I say a temporary conclusion, it means that Major League Soccer hasn't informed the masses of the punishment that would fit this horrible situation that graced the pitch at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night, April 8th against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Here is the timeline of events that happened in that match as we try to piece together what all of us saw and how it all got started from beginning to end. In the 54th minute, another horrific challenge against the New York Red Bulls struck again as Judson delivered a two-footed mid-air challenge to the chest of Dylan Nealis and sadly all it got was a yellow card, Dylan's brother, and Captain Sean Nealis protested very loudly and earned his booking for his dissent of the referee's decision.
While the arguments continued between Sean Nealis & Earthquakes representative Jeremy Ebobisse to the referee, Dante Vanzeir entered the scrum and said a word that at the time we didn't know about, but it made Ebobisse very mad and started to go after Vanzeir for that verbal action. A huge scrum aimed towards him and the referee tried to calm down both sides.
Conversations were being made, and referee Ismir Pekmic went to the VAR monitor to have a chat with Esmail Elfath to see if they could make out what was said. Gerhard Struber had conversations with Carlos Coronel, he walked across to the opposition's technical area to have a chat with Earthquakes Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez,
Over 20 minutes of dead play finally came to an end and the match was able to restart, but there was an issue. Vanzeir was still on the pitch and the Earthquakes bench was not happy seeing him remain in play. Finally, in the 86th minute, Vanzeir was subbed out for Elias Manoel, and the tensions calmed. But in reality, the tension was still blazing as the supporters were very angry and upset over this horrible moment.
Social media has exploded and there were already shouts of sending Dante Vanzeir away from the club, as well as demanding Gerhard Struber be sacked for this terrible display of judgment, to keep Vanzeir on the pitch. Ebobisse went to his Zoom call for post-match to speak to San Jose Media and informed them of a slur that was said by Vanzeir, but wasn't aimed at anyone.
Now nearly 48 hours after the incident ended, the New York Red Bulls put out three prepared statements to inform the supporters and the supporters of MLS. First, the Club "The New York Red Bulls wholeheartedly apologize for the unacceptable events that transpired on Saturday Night during the match with the San Jose Earthquakes.
The words and inaction was inexcusable, and we believe there is never a place for it. We always strive for an environment that is inclusive and anti-racist. Our organization is committed to providing the resources to further educate our players and staff, as well as rebuilding trust within our community"
Then the next statement came on the behalf of Dante Vanzeir where he is taking full responsibility for his actions, apologized to his teammates, and accepted whatever punishment the league will give him. It was also said that his goal was not to intend harm by the word or words he used, but knew what he did say and was sorry for it.
And finally, Gerhard Struber's statement as he made the biggest mistake by not taking in all the information and removing Vanzeir from the pitch immediately to save face, grief from where we are right now. There is no excuse for what Dante Vanzeir said, and no excuse for what inaction Gerhard Struber did to calm the waters and the aftermath of that match.
There were multiple failures on display and the final outcome will be posted by Major League Soccer to see how much the fines are, and how many games both Vanzeir and Struber will receive for their parts in that incident. It's a sad day for this club that has had a rich history of bringing over great players, developing great players, and always making this Arena a fortress in MLS and US Soccer.
All we can hope for is that this type of display never happens again, and the club will now have to make sure whoever transfers over from a different country and plays in front of one of the best supporters in this league to make sure they never, ever say anything that despicable again. Vanzeir is a young player and he will learn from this, and he needs to be allowed to prove his worth and earn the trust again from his teammates, the coaching staff, and the supporters.
At 3:39 PM on Tuesday, April 11th the Red Bulls put out a statement on social media as Dante Vanzeir has elected to step away from the club at this time. The statement reads, "Dante Vanzeir addressed his teammates this morning and, to avoid further distractions, will step away from the club until further notice."
This is a learning moment for him and he will need to understand that he can never, do this again or else it's time to rip up the contract and send him back to Belgium permanently. But if you are having your own personal issues with returning this coming weekend to Red Bull Arena, you should still go and voice your thoughts during the match. Show the club your displeasure, but support the others on the field, they don't deserve what happened that night.