COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- It’s nights like these where public relations departments earn their paychecks – by saving others’ paychecks from being docked.
After the San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night, Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja and debutant Earthquakes coach Mark Watson got into a verbal argument on the sidelines, with several players from both teams stepping between the two to keep things from spiraling further out of control. Pareja then appeared to get into arguments with San Jose forward and captain Chris Wondolowski and ‘Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch before finally being dragged away to the dressing room after a drama-filled post-game ‘handshake.'
Following the game, and after a lengthy cool-down period, a smirk-laden Pareja was sarcastically mum about the incident.
“Nothing,” Pareja said post-game when asked about what happened between the two coaches. “Normal things.”
For his part, Watson was also quiet post-game, saying little about the incident. But one person who was willing to speak about the second half chippiness was Rapids midfielder Hendry Thomas, who got heated with Watson in the 48th minute after Watson appeared to kick a ball at him from the sidelines.
“I think that a player in that situation can’t respect a coach who calls himself professional that’s going to kick you the ball when I got the ball cleanly,” Thomas told MLSsoccer.com in Spanish following the game.
“The coach felt upset with me and that’s why I think he kicked the ball at me. I’ll let you guys look at the video and you’ll see he kicked the ball at me.”
It was this early second half incident – which required Pareja to separate his player from Watson – that appeared to set off the chain of events leading to the ugly post-game scrum.
But following a hot shower and a lengthy briefing from public relations, both Pareja and Thomas were cool as cucumbers post-game.
“I was hot about the situation because with all due respect, San Jose didn’t have a great game and because of our mistakes they got goals,” Thomas said. “And there’s the fiery nature of my personality.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.