Violent postgame incidents fouled up Sunday’s grand opening of Orlando City Stadium after the hosts had defeated New York City FC. Three New Yorkers were arrested, and an Orlando police officer required treatment for a leg injury.
Details are still emerging from the incidents. Various accounts point fingers directly at law enforcement for macing orderly supporters, while others accused one NYCFC fan, Felix Vazquez, of attacking and choking a police officer.
“One of the New York fans started fighting with a cop and even choking him,” one witness told The Orlando Sentinel.
Vazquez was charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer — reportedly Gustavo Marinoni, a 14 year Orlando PD veteran — resisting arrest with violence, and disorderly conduct. Two more NYCFC fans, Katherine Sopildis and Luciano Migliore, were charged with resisting arrest.
Our big disclaimer: whether or not Vazquez or any other New York City fan committed a malicious attack on law enforcement is not something we are remotely interested in adjudicating here.
I witnessed the entire police/supporter ex exchange. I saw absolutely nothing out of line from NYC supporters. Zero.— Purple Pride Army (@PurplePrideArmy) March 6, 2017
OCSC supporters spreading "NYC supporters hurt a cop" rumors are exactly why dozens upon dozens do not sit with them anymore 100% untrue.— Purple Pride Army (@PurplePrideArmy) March 6, 2017
We’ve reported on postgame chaos before, and we’ve never been afraid to call out violence and abusive behavior. But there’s one possibility that these early returns suggest to be the strongest:
No single group comes away from this looking like model citizens, including the tweethearts attempting to frame these issues to their advantage:
As fanbases, both NYCFC and Orlando City have developed reputations for acting out on away days. Whether this is strictly fair or strictly unfair is a tough nut to crack; both teams have massive followings, and it’s typically only the small handful of bad eggs that ends up standing out. But the grand consequence of last night’s scenes is that this reputation for foolish, reckless, or illegal behavior really starts to stick.
Would MLS go so far as to impose a broad away game ban for NYCFC fans if such episodes persist? That’s not foreseeable. For now. If we as supporters can’t manage to stay clean on away days, however, we may discover that the p-word is the least of our problems.