Shocking scenes at Los Angeles Football Club’s first-ever MLS Cup Playoffs game on Thursday, as the game was halted for a cool-down period after spectators in the North End at Banc of California Stadium, where The 3252 stand, repeatedly threw debris onto the field during the game.
LAFC, hosting Real Salt Lake, went down in the 21st minute to a Damir Kreilach goal for RSL against the run of play. The next 10 minutes appeared to ratchet up the problem at the other end, as people in the section behind goal threw objects blindly onto the field, as well as specifically at RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Things came to a head in the 31st minute, when Rimando appeared to be hit with an ice cube after referee Mark Geiger warned the teams and crowd repeatedly to stop. Curiously, Geiger permitted LAFC to take a free kick from the right of the 18-yard box that Carlos Vela earned, and Vela promptly set up Danilo Silva with an equalizer on the set piece.
From there, the game was halted for five minutes, as Geiger brought both teams to the sideline to cool things off and make it clear to the spectators that they could not continue throwing objects, and for now (the game is ongoing) no further issues appear to have occurred.
This is one of the oddest moments in MLS history. Soccer games abroad have been known to be stopped for fans throwing stuff onto the field or violence in the stands or spilling over onto the field, but this is not something you see in MLS. For what it’s worth, throwing garbage at people is not the passion people are looking for in American soccer culture. Let’s hope this is a one-time issue and an incident like this does not mar LAFC’s game culture ever again.
Update: In the second half, enough of those in attendance at The Banc said the homophobic chant loud enough for it to be picked up on the ESPN2 broadcast repeatedly. In addition, some sitting in the South End threw beers onto the field in second-half stoppage time during a break in play. What an embarrassing showing, giving all of LAFC, including fans who did behave themselves, a black eye.
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