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Tayvon Gray suspended by MLS

Gray is ineligible to play for NYCFC pending a league investigation of a claim he used inappropriate language during the loss to FC Cincinnati.


Earlier this morning, Tayvon Gray was suspended by Major League Soccer for allegedly using language that violates league policy during New York City FC’s loss to FC Cincinnati

The league announced word of Gray’s ineligibility the morning of NYCFC’s match with the New England Revolution, with the Homegrown defender unable to play until MLS completes its investigation into the allegation.

MLS offered zero insight as to what Gray is alleged to have said during the contentious loss to FC Cincinnati. When reached for comment on the situation, NYCFC said the club cannot comment further while the league’s investigation is ongoing. 

Days after the suspension was announced, FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan told the FCC media that Gray’s inappropriate language was directed at defender Junior Moreno. It must be stressed that it still remains unclear exactly what Gray said to prompt the investigation.

Gray was involved in multiple contentious moments in the match, as he was also whistled for a costly foul and given a yellow card in the 58th minute by referee Armando Villareal for a challenge on Luciano Acosta. The ensuing free kick was bent in beautifully by Cincinnati’s Álvaro Barreal to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

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There has been significant fallout from NYCFC’s controversy-filled loss to Cincinnati, a match that in retrospect looks even messier than it did while it unfolded in real time. MLS pulled something of a Friday news dump when they handed FC Cincy defender Yerson Mosquera a fine for simulation for the acting job he attempted during a confrontation with NYCFC’s Braian Cufré.

There’s also the bigger matter of Villareal’s handling of the game. The referee was eviscerated by NYCFC manager Nick Cushing following the match, described as “embarrassing” and “a disaster” for decisions like disallowing Gabriel Pereira’s opening goal for a phantom foul committed by Gabe Segal.

Villareal called 29 fouls on the night and handed out 12 combined yellow cards. The referee is regarded as one of the best in MLS, but he had players from both teams in his ear all night long arguing about his decisions and apparent inconsistencies.

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The drama of this match was not restricted solely to the field of play, as the loss was also followed by the testy exchange between James Sands and some unhappy NYCFC supporters.

In sum, NYCFC’s second straight 3-1 loss at home included:
• A hugely controversial night from the referee
• A Cincinnati player retroactively fined for embellishment
• NYCFC’s captain exchanging words with disgruntled fans
• An NYCFC player getting suspended for alleged use of inappropriate but currently unknown language

In other words, just a totally normal midweek MLS match.

We will update this post further as we learn more about the nature of the allegations.