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US Open Cup qualifier abandoned after player threatens to stab ref

New York Renegades midfielder allegedly tells ref "I will "f****** stab you" after game.

Yohance Alexander #8 of the New York Renegades is shown a red card during a U.S. Open Cup qualifying round game against the New York Pancyprian Freedoms | Photo by Stephen Nadler/ISI Photos/USSF
The post was updated on Sunday, October 29; you will find the update at the end.

In addition, Hudson River Blue learned that people discussed in this post are being harassed online. We strongly condemn the harassment or intimidation of any person or organization for any reason — we publish news to inform our readers, not provoke hate. 

In other words: Cool your jets.

Queens, NY. The US Open Cup qualifier between New York Pancyprian-Freedoms and NY Renegades FC on Sunday, October 2, was abandoned in the 76th minute after a Renegades player threatened to stab ref after game.

It was the only 2024 US Open Cup qualifier to take place within the Five Boroughs. When the match was abandoned, the Freedoms were beating the Renegades 3-0.

Because of the threat, the Renegades, a team from Hicksville, New York that competes in the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL), were officially disqualified from the competition.

A heated second-half

The match was held at Saint John’s University’s Belson Stadium, a venue regularly used by the New York City FC organization for both first team USOC games and reserve team matches, saw the Renegades on the road. This reporter was in the stands along with other local members of the press. 

The game began to unravel in the 74th minute. 

Jonathan Silveira of the Renegades was shown a yellow card for tripping James Tristino of the Freedoms. The visitors were becoming more aggressive as the match turned against them, and the referee had spoken to both teams at various points. By this time the Renegades had already been shown at least two other yellow cards.

Players began to crowd around the center referee near the spot of the foul, just in front of the Renegades bench. Renegades defender Samuel Cáceres, a former professional player in Paraguay who had a loan stint with the New York Cosmos in 2015, was also shown a yellow card. From the video and the actions displayed, it seems as though he said something to the referee to warrant the caution.

While this was happening, Yohance Alexander of the Renegades was visibly arguing from a distance. This took place as players from both teams stood between him and the referee. It looked to be less in a “hold him back” situation and more of a “block his site and try to let cooler heads prevail” moment.

However, Alexander continued to close the distance. In the 76th minute, Alexander was shown a straight red card. Players from both teams once again got between the midfielder and the official, as Alexander refused to leave the field right away. Alexander continued to argue and pointed towards the official in anger.

As of now the full match broadcast is still available to view via GameInFrame.

If I see you on the street, I’ll “stab you”

There are differing reports on what happened next. As this reporter and other media were in the stands, and witnessed the events from afar.

Alexander did not leave the field after being ejected. According to witnesses close to the field, he allegedly shouted “If I see you on the street, I’m going to fucking stab you.” 

Three sources close to the situation reported hearing the threat in question with slight variations. One heard “If I catch you outside” instead of “If I see you on the street”. Another heard, “I’m going to fucking mess you up” instead of “I’m going to fucking stab you.”

All three agreed that Alexander said the expletive.

After Alexander spoke, the referee blew his whistle three times to signify the end of the game.

The referees then huddled together, and did not tell coaches or press any information. They instead asked for 30 minutes to discuss the matter, but quietly left the stadium before that time.

Game abandoned, New York Renegades ejected from competition

According to a statement from US Soccer, the Freedoms game with the Renegades “was abandoned in the 76th minute due to player misconduct.” This phrasing was also used in the official round recap on USSF’s website.

According to the 2024 Open Division & Qualifying Rounds Handbook (Section 7, Part III, Sub-section 308, Amendment F):

“If a match is abandoned because of the conduct of a team in the match, the other team shall automatically be awarded a win and the team engaging in the misconduct shall be awarded a loss. If a game must be abandoned due to the misconduct of both teams, the referee will file a complete report and the status of the game will be decided by the Commissioner. The Commissioner will immediately refer the matter to the Adjudication and Discipline Panel for a recommendation before issuing a decision.”

USSF has confirmed to Hudson River Blue that the matter has been brought up to the Adjudication and Discipline Panel. Any punishment and fine will be determined by them. This punishment could be for Alexander, the Renegades, or potentially both parties.

This punishment may or may not already be on top of the potential loss of performance bond for the Renegades. 

For the unaware, teams entering Open Cup qualifying, either during the qualifying round or tournament proper, pay both an entry fee ($200) and performance bond ($1,500). The latter is refunded to teams 60 days after their elimination from the tournament assuming obligations are met and no rules are broken.

If certain occurrences happen US Soccer will charge amounts against a team’s Performance Bond. One example is changing the date or venue of a match after it is publicly announced ($300 fine). In regards to a forfeit the handbook (Section 3) says the amount charged will be the;  “Remaining balance of Performance Bond plus any additional amount to be determined by the Adjudication and Discipline Panel.”

Because he was shown a red card, Alexander will be suspended for at least one Open Cup match next year.

Former college standout

A former college soccer player for both Hill College (Hillsboro, Texas) and Long Island University (LIU), Alexander became the Student Assistant Coach for the LIU men’s soccer team in 2019.

In 2022, he appeared with local side Lansdowne Yonkers FC during that year’s US Open Cup tournament. He started both of the team’s tournament games and earned a yellow card in both matches.

Prior to the incident the Freedoms had been the better team on the night. The side’s roster on the night included former New York Cosmos defender James “Jimmy” Nealis, brother to New York Red Bulls’ defenders Sean and Dylan. Other former pros in the starting XI included midfielder Luis Argudo (Columbus Crew), full-back Jordan Bailon (New York Red Bulls), and striker Shavon John Brown (Cosmos, Grenada national team).

The latter had a player-of-the-match performance by getting involved in each of his team’s goals. The former El Paso Locomotive FC player assisted Tristino for the opener in the third minute. John-Brown doubled the lead in the tenth minute from near point blank range to make it 2-0. The former pro essentially sealed the result in the 40th minute when a long pass found him on a run. He chipped the keeper to make it 3-0.

The Renegades had more ball possession in the second half but lacked clinical attacking up front. Rodrigo Descalzo Rocca had great runs up the right side of the field, cutting through defenders to make space. But either his passes found no one in front of the net or him waiting allowed the NYPF defense to organize.

John-Brown, who plays with the Renegades during their UPSL league season, hopes the incident doesn’t impact the team unit moving forward.

“I would like to brush it off because (they’re) the only team I train with,” joked John-Brown. “I hope they don’t take it personal.”

The forward also said he did not know the exact reason why the match was called off, saying he was not near the mayhem.

The NY Renegades and New York Pancyprian Freedoms did not respond to requests for comment for this story. A representative from the UPSL called the situation “unfortunate” but said the league would have no further comment at this time.

The Freedoms now advance to November’s “Win & You’re In” fourth round. They will probably play either Brockton FC United (Brockton, Massachusetts) or New Jersey Alliance FC (Lyndhurst, New Jersey) for one of the eleven spots up for grabs in the 2024 Open Cup. Pairings are set to come out shortly.

Updated on Sunday, October 29

Following the original publication of this article, HRB was contacted by New York Renegades FC president Boris Linares and midfielder Yohance Alexander. Both spoke on the record.

Alexander vehemently denies ever threatening the referee’s life.

According to Alexander, he deferred to the referee when Jonathan Silveira was shown a yellow card. But, as team captain, Alexander approached the referee to ask for an explanation after Samuel Cáceres was shown a yellow card. 

According to Alexander, he was frustrated and said “You’re killing the fucking game.”

After the referee gave Alexander a red card, Alexander continued to express frustration and called the referee an “asshole.” The game was abandoned after that.

Alexander felt that the match official was harsh to both teams during the match, but especially the Renegades. He noted the official’s annoyance at the team delaying kickoff because of their pre-match prayer. He then accused the referee of presenting a yellow card in the first half in retaliation for that delay.

“I have nothing against any officials,” said Alexander to HRB. “This is the first altercation I have had with any official in my entire career playing outside of college. Never had any altercation with a referee.”

He contended that the Renegades will always play hard during games. But after the final whistle, that would be that.

“These officials, if they are feeling so emotional, taking it personal, it’s not acceptable,” Alexander said.