TUKWILA, Wash. – Much was made of the intensity and tension that was evident during Sunday's first leg of the Western Conference Semifinal between Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps.
It manifested itself in trash talking between the two benches and a couple of second-half flare-ups on the BC Place field, including one in the 83rd minute that saw Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Aly Ghazal appearing to put Seattle Sounders midfielders Ozzie Alonso and Nicolas Lodeiro in simultaneous headlocks.
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told reporters at Seattle’s Monday practice at Starfire Sports Complex that he’s been informed that the sequence that led to the double-headlock is under review by the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
“That is being reviewed by the Disciplinary Committee,” Schmetzer said. “I can tell you that, it’s under review. And I am anxiously awaiting the report. Because I thought that was wrong.”
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Since signing with Vancouver in August, the 25-year-old Ghazal has proven to be a more-than-viable contingency plan for the club after the loss of Matias Laba to injury. The Egyptian's skillset as a defensive midfielder figures to be a key for the Whitecaps as they try to neutralize the threat posed by Sounders attackers Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey.
As for any potential lingering animosity over Sunday’s scuffles, Schmetzer said a certain degree of increased emotions are to be expected when it comes to playoff soccer, adding that he spoke with Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson after the game and considers the air all but cleared ahead of Thursday’s massive second leg (10:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes in US; TSN, TVAS in Canada).
“That was a playoff game, that absolutely was a playoff game – coaching staffs, players on the field,” Schmetzer said. “But you know Carl’s a good guy. We talked after the game, there’s no animosity there, just playoff intensity.”