May 30th, 2024

New York City FC coach repeats denial of allegations he punched a Toronto FC player

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on May 13, 2024.

New York City FC coach Nick Cushing has repeated his denial of allegations that he punched a Toronto FC player, saying he is "shocked and upset" at the claim. Cushing gestures during the second half of an MLS soccer match against Inter Miami, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Saturday, March 30, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Marta Lavandier

New York City FC coach Nick Cushing has repeated his denial of allegations that he punched a Toronto FC player, saying he is shocked and upset at the claim.

The two teams clashed on the pitch following NYCFC’s 3-2 win Saturday night at BMO Field. After the game, Toronto coach John Herdman and captain Jonathan Osorio said the bad blood stemmed from New York’s 2-1 win at Yankee Stadium on March 16.

Herdman and Osorio both said a 19-year-old Toronto player had been punched by the New York coach in the stadium tunnel at halftime of the March game. They did not identify the player but the age fits Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, who opened the scoring at Yankee Stadium.

Cushing denied the allegation on Saturday night and again Monday. He said NYCFC asked the league to investigate “the incident on Saturday evening,” declining further comment.

Herdman stood by the allegation Monday, saying he had to believe his player’s side of the story. And he said he is waiting to hear back from the league on any possible follow-up from what happened Saturday.

The Toronto coach said his club had requested video footage from the March 16 game. The footage received did not show the alleged incident, although Herdman said it showed “evidence of other things that were going on.”

The league did not respond immediately to an email about the two NYCFC-TFC games.

TFC plays at Nashville SC on Wednesday before returning home to host CF Montreal.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2024

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