By NEIL DAVIDSON
The Canadian Press
Friday, November 17, 2017
TORONTO -- After its failed appeal of Jozy Altidore's red card, Toronto FC is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Major League Soccer confirmed on Thursday that its disciplinary committee is reviewing the halftime tunnel melee Nov. 5 at BMO Field that led to the ejection of Altidore and Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan.
A decision was expected later Thursday or Friday morning.
This comes after a separate independent panel upheld referee Chris Penso's decision to issue red cards to both players for violent conduct, rejecting appeals by both Toronto and the Red Bulls.
As a result, Altidore is suspended for the Nov. 21 start of the Eastern Conference final in Columbus.
Toronto will also be without striker Sebastian Giovinco, who got a one-game ban after picking up two yellow cards - for time wasting and dissent - over the two legs of the conference semifinal series win over the Red Bulls.
Both Altidore and Kljestan could face supplemental punishment from the league's disciplinary committee, which is comprised of three former MLS players, one former MLS coach and a former MLS referee.
That committee can add to the mandatory one-game suspension for the red card and/or issue a fine for "those offences the committee deems to be of an egregious nature, or where the committee believes it must act to protect player safety or the integrity of the game."
A mass confrontation outside the locker-rooms would seem to fit like a glove into the "integrity of the game" category.
Any supplemental discipline would be a bitter pill to swallow for Toronto, which felt strongly that Altidore was not the aggressor. It submitted security camera footage of the incident which it felt backed up its contention but acknowledged on Wednesday the footage was incomplete because of the camera angle.
Altidore and Kljestan had had words late in the first half after Altidore went to the defence of Giovinco, who was facing up with Tyler Adams. Kljestan ended up shoving Altidore, who toppled - somewhat easily - backward.
Altidore was still steaming when the half ended, his ire heightened after the fourth official ran onto the field to steer him away from another perceived potential incident. He went into the tunnel with Kljestan behind him.
What happened inside depends on who you speak to.
Altidore said the Red Bulls star midfielder tried to grab him from behind, so he pushed him away.
Kljestan said Altidore was the aggressor, shoving him against the wall.
Fan video shows a scrum of players, coaches and security with the Red Bulls near the Toronto locker room. The visiting team is supposed to turn left after exiting the field to get to its own dressing room.
Altidore (16 goals) and Giovinco (15) accounted for 42 per cent of Toronto's league-leading 74 goals this season. That included nine game-winning goals.
Barring a ruling by the disciplinary committee, Altidore will join Giovinco on the field for the second leg against Columbus at BMO Field on Nov. 29.
Toronto will likely start Canadian international Tosaint Ricketts (seven goals) up front in Game 1 with Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez (eight goals) playing further forward.
Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore falls to the ground after being shoved by Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan during a semi-final match in Toronto on Nov. 5.
CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS