After a combative 90 minutes in the Orlando heat on Monday morning, tensions didn't immediately cool off when the referee blew his whistle to end Toronto FC's 2-2 draw with D.C. United.
Players from United, who engineered a stunning two-goal comeback to salvage a draw in the last 10 minutes despite being down a man, exchanged words with their Toronto counterparts. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid was at the center of the dust-up, as was Michael Bradley. The teams were separated before long.
What was at the root of the discontent? A feeling of disrespect.
“Between Toronto and us we were waiting for them two times,” Frederic Brillant told reporters after the match. “I think we deserve more respect. We have the feeling that they didn’t respect us. We waited two times and they didn’t show two times. Before we start the game there was tension between them and us and in the end they were frustrated because we came back."
Toronto arrived late in Orlando for the MLS is Back Tournament, which caused the original scheduled date for their game against D.C. United. Then, uncertainty surrounding a positive test result and one inconclusive COVID-19 test on Sunday morning caused the game to be delayed another day. Toronto didn't leave the hotel while D.C. traveled to the field before the game was postponed.
"There's opinion and emotion from D.C.'s side about our delay in getting down here," TFC head coach Greg Vanney said. "If you want to blame us, you can. For them, maybe that's been their mantra to get them through this game. In the end, we allowed them the opportunity to pump out their chest when they came back from two goals, down a man. If we win the game the way we should have, none of that probably would have happened. ... I think it's just two sides who have different opinions on what has happened over the last two weeks to get this game played."
"We’ve gotten a real sense that they’re all pissed off and angry that we showed up late," Bradley added. "Almost feeling like we’re trying to cheat the system, which obviously couldn’t be further from the truth.”
D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen confirmed Vanney and Bradley's perceptions.
"It's no secret that a lot of our guys are a little bit pissed off at how all of this played out," Olsen said. "... Emotions are high. It wasn't surprising that there was a dust-up, it didn't surprise me that it was a physical game and there was a red card. It was always going to shake out that way, both sides talking at each other. That's okay. It's done, it'll blow over."
Relations may have already blown over. Brillant, who scored the game-tying goal in stoppage time, revealed that players from both sides discussed the incident in the locker room after the game.
"We are soccer players and after the game when we went to the locker room we talked about it," Brillant said. "The situation was calm, we talked about it a little with them and it was much better.”
Bradley didn't seem to harbor any lingering bitterness after the match either.
"Part of it is just football," Bradley said. "On a hot humid day, you have one team that goes down 2-0 and is able to come back and get a point. They're obviously excited and we're obviously disappointed. That's normal, that's football."