San Jose Earthquakes celebrate Christian Espinoza’s goal in the second half against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Saturday APR 7, 2023. (San Jose Earthquakes)
by Marko Ukalovic
An alleged racial slur used by one of the New York Red Bulls marred the match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the New York Red Bulls that ended in a 1-1 draw on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena.
After a foul by Judson on Dylan Nealis in the 54th minute, the game was delayed by 18 minutes after a incident between Dante Vanzeir and Jeremy Ebobbise took place. Vanzeir was the player who allegedly used the racial slur toward one of the Quakes players.
Played resumed in the 72nd minute without any further disciplinary action by the officials.
San Jose (3-2-2) scored in the 80th minute when Carlos Gruezo sent in a long ball over to Christian Espinoza along the right wing. Espinoza made one move to the inside before firing a shot into the back of the net for his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Espinoza has scored the last four goals for the ‘Quakes.
Due to the long delay, 21 minutes was added to the end of the second half.
The Red Bulls scored the equalizer in the 17th minute of stoppage when Tom Barlow cleaned up a rebound from close range for his first goal of the season.
Ebobbise was emotional after the game regarding the incident on the field.
“First of all, it’s a difficult game when we play the Red Bulls. We have a lot of respect for their style of play. We understand there is going to be a lot of duels and they go strong into the duels. At times, that results in late tackles on our end, and then on their end. That’s all part of the game. What we saw tonight should not be part of the game. I can’t correlate the various actions or the timeline that I’m going to lay out, but with what started with a foul that was being committed by Judson, fast forward a few minutes, seconds, and it ended with a racial epithet being used. Now, I understand there is going to be an investigation. I’ve been a part of those. I’ve had to support teammates through them. I have seen them, so I want to be mindful of that even as I share. I think what’s important for me to share is that I know what I heard. And the reason why I felt, after a lengthy conversation, that we should continue with the game is because the player who said the word claimed that it was not aimed at any of us. Whether that is a good faith comment or not, again, we’ll see how the investigation goes on. It’s just a difficult moment. Once again, players being put in charge, forced to make a decision, manage all sorts of emotions because the system is not robust enough to capture moments and gain clarity within a matter of minutes, seconds that these actions happen. I think what’s important is that the team was united in whichever step we move forward with. And that goes top to bottom, from coaches to players,” Ebobbise said.
‘Quakes head coach Luchi Gonzalez praised his team for how they handled themselves during and after the alleged incident.
“It’s unfortunate that the players and people near and on the field had to experience a 20-minute moment where, I can’t speak factually, but when I listen to my players in terms of what was said or not said, or who it was directed to, there are things that are unacceptable and very unfortunate, very disappointing, that take precedent over the game we play. I have to be really proud of our players to be together in solidarity, to talk, to decide and to obviously not accept what they heard. I don’t know what the next step is. I would hope the league will take this serious to the max degree in terms of an investigation and there being consequences, potentially indefinite consequences if the investigation supports what are players understood as being true. We as a club, myself as the head coach, and the staff are going to support the players, any step moving forward that the players want to act on, and we hope and count on the league, and the referee crew as well, in terms of investigating, coming down to the truth so that there can be actions that, don’t make it right, that’s for sure, but at least show that it’s unacceptable and the league will act on that based on our standard as a society and as being a top professional league in this country. Unfortunately, the game is in a shadow because of that situation because it’s less important.”
Both teams and MLS are aware of the incident that took place, and the league said in a statement that it will launch an investigation into the matter.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished the match with four corner kicks. New York had five.
The Quakes are now 17-15-10 all-time vs. the New York Red Bulls, including an 4-11-7 record on the road. The result snaps a four-match losing streak against the club.
UP NEXT: San Jose returns home to host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday 4/15 at 7:30pm at Pay Pal Park.