On the FS1 postgame show following the 1-1 draw between the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers, the 73rd-minute Nigel de Jong tackle on Portland’s Darlington Nagbe was a prominent topic of discussion.
The studio team included host Rob Stone, LA Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee, FS1 color analyst and US Soccer Hall of Famer Alexi Lalas and analyst and former MLSer Stuart Holden, who suffered a serious injury on a De Jong tackle during a US national team match against the Netherlands in March 2010.
Below are the comments made by Holden, Magee and Lalas:
"It’s almost fate, wasn’t it, that this was going to happen. Nigel and I actually had an opportunity [to talk] before the game, and full disclosure, he sought me out and made an apology for this challenge [from March 2010]. As you can see there, I had a grade-2 MCL sprain and a broken right fibula which almost put me out of the World Cup in 2010. Now I did rehab and get back, and I felt that that was a nasty challenge.
"And I also felt that the one today, on Darlington Nagbe, he comes over the ball. I came away from it feeling … He talked about being in a dark period in that part of his career. About the media was on his back. He was under a lot of pressure on the field and was making challenges. In my book, it’s no excuse for breaking legs. It’s no excuse for bad challenges. But I walked away from that feeling good.
"And I’m sitting here and now I’m seeing this challenge firs hand on Darlington Nagbe, and it makes me feel sick. Because I know what Darlington Nagbe is going through. We saw him sitting there. He had the towel over his head. We saw his body mannerism and that’s a man that knows he’s done something serious. I don’t want to speculate what it is, but I know it’s not good. And De Jong did go over and apologize, but there is absolutely no excuse for that type of challenge. We don’t need it in the game. It’s horrific. It’s horrible. And he’s going to get retroactive punishment."
Q: Was it more than a yellow card?
"Watching on the replay, it’s tough. He definitely gets him [Nagbe]. I see Nigel day in and day out, and he competes on every single play. That's hard to watch and I don’t think he does it intentionally. But that’s not a great tackle.”
Q: If it was on an LA Galaxy player what would you be saying right now?
"That’s a very difficult question to answer. Any time you see someone get hit studs-up, you’re not happy about it. It’s my teammate, so I’d love to defend him, but the game can do without those kind of tackles."
Q: What’s the character that is Nigel De Jong?
"Listen, it’s bad timing to say this, but we all love him and I can’t reiterate enough that he competes like that at all times. Maybe not studs-up. A guy that’s going that hard 24-7 every minute of the day, it’s really unfortunate. It’s hard for me to even comment on it, really, seeing the video and being as close to Stu [Holden] as I am and knowing what happened to him. I’m kind of at a loss for words.”
"I don’t like retroactive [punishment], but it’s going to happen because that’s what MLS does -- they have a Disciplinary Committee. They’re going to go back and I think he’s going to get dinged multiple games. It was a red card in my book. It was dirty. It is from a player who has a history of doing this, so it should be a surprise to absolutely nobody. And when you look at it, if you are a human being, you will realize that that is not acceptable. And it’s not acceptable in 2016 in MLS. Quite honestly, it’s never been acceptable."