Towards the end of New York City FC’s 2-0 win over the LA Galaxy on Saturday, there was an incident involving Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and City goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Though it wasn’t clear what exactly happened when the play was live, replays showed Ibrahimovic — after taking some contact from behind — turn around and grab Johnson by the neck before both players go to ground. Instead of consulting with the VAR, referee Chris Penso issued a yellow card to both players before the game would ultimately end moments later.
Here’s the incident, which was posted to Major League Soccer’s YouTube channel yesterday:
Upon further review, MLS’s Disciplinary Committee (DisCo) have suspended Zlatan for the Galaxy’s next two matches against the Colorado Rapids and Orlando City respectively. Johnson received no further punishment or fine for the scuffle.
Look, I have always been a huge Zlatan fan. How can you not be? The guy has an extremely personality, a give-no-fucks attitude, and is a world class baller to boot. But this kind of behavior is low — even for a dude as wild as Zlatan — and shouldn’t be allowed. I’m still surprised he wasn’t sent off for this on the spot in game where VAR was available and had already been used earlier to grant NYCFC a penalty kick.
Maybe there’s no sense in complaining about now because, at the end of the day, the incident proved to be insignificant. Still, these decisions should be addressed of the spot, especially when you have the technology to make the right call at your disposal.