CARSON, Calif. – In the 72nd minute of the LA Galaxy’s 1-1 draw with defending MLS Cup champions the Portland Timbers, Nigel de Jong made a hard tackle on Darlington Nagbe as Nagbe cut past Ashley Cole. De Jong received a yellow card for the foul and Nagbe was removed from the game due to injury.
“It was a 50-50 ball,” de Jong said postgame. “Normally, I always have those balls. I went over to the ball and catch the ball a little bit and catch most of his ankle. It was a pity, you know what I mean? It was never my intention to hurt him.
“It’s a good kid, as well,” de Jong added, noting that he gave Nagbe the same message after the game.
Timbers coach Caleb Porter said he did not know the extent of Nagbe’s injury.
“This is one in particular that you look back at,” Porter said.
“I understand that there’s a message that referees want to send – well, we better start sending it, then. Because they didn’t send it today with some of the tackles that were in that game. So when are we sending it? Just some games? And that’s the big thing. It’s like, if we’re going to have an initiative to send a message on tough tackles, well then let’s do it. Let’s do it every game. Not some games.”
Timbers defender Jermaine Taylor took his coach's criticisms a step further.
“I mean, for me, it was pretty bad,” he said of de Jong's tackle. “I think they got some repeated fouls that the referee didn’t take full control of, in terms of managing the game, and that’s one of the things leading up to the foul on Darlington Nagbe.
“There had been some reckless tackles on the pitch – if they had cautioned a couple of guys earlier, I mean, that would’ve set the tone and calmed the game and settled the game, preventing Nagbe from even getting the injury. So it’s just, I think, from the referee’s standpoint, bad officiating and controlling the game.”