On Sunday’s wildly entertaining match between the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC, one of the craziest and most unexpected brawls surprisingly happened at a stoppage of play involving head athletic trainer Paul Rushing, of all people. Rushing’s inner Philly mentality and blue-collar toughness got the best of him when he got into it with an NYCFC player interfering with his work, and as a result, was shown a red card. This was one of the most unique occurrences that have ever happened in an MLS game, and it was extremely fitting to have it happen in Chester, PA between the top two teams in the East in the heat of the summer, broadcasted on national television.

To set the scene, the match referee stopped play in the 76th minute due to a head injury suffered by striker Julian Carranza following a hard challenge in the air from defender Maxime Chanot. The longest-tenured MLS head athletic trainer, Rushing hustled onto the pitch to assess and assist with Carranza’s injury and just seconds later Nicolás Acevedo nudged Carranza into the grass when he already laying down. Rushing, a United States Navy veteran, took offense to this, so in retaliation, he reacted and sent a message with a little shove directed toward Acevedo.

Then a few minutes later, the situation escalated as striker midfielder Valentín Castellanos lunged right in the face of Rushing, and defender Jakob Glesnes had to try his best to hold back his strong and irate trainer. Then as Rushing was heading off the field in the 79th minute, midfielder Maximiliano Moralez had some choice words for the trainer to essentially get off the field, and this was the last straw for Rushing as he shouted something back and was sent off to the roar of the Philadelphia fans and Sons of Ben in the packed Subaru Park. Defender Alexander Callens, Castellanos, and Carranza all received yellow cards as well for the pushing and shoving.

The reasoning as to why Rushing got sent off is because a trainer cannot put his hands on or make contact with an opposing player and he simply got too amped up when the New York players decided to be cheap and shove Carranza when he was already injured. To put this odd and funny moment into perspective, this has never happened in an MLS game as fans and media members alike were stunned. Rushing was suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for a total of two games for his actions. Midfielders Daniel Gazdag and Acevedo were fined by the committee for their actions in the brawl as well.

“I’ve never seen that, in all the years, never seen that,” said legendary broadcaster and Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame recipient JP Dellacamera, who has been an announcer for over 30 years. “I think that’s a first for me as well. You hear the round of applause he’s getting from the Philly fans, the Philly faithful they love seeing it,” added former Union captain midfielder and current FS1 color commentator Maurice Edu.

The no-nonsense trainer simply did what any other loyal teammate would have done and stuck up for his players in the heat of the moment. In my opinion, I believe that Rushing had every right to vent his frustration and strike back following NYC’s poor sportsmanship stunt. To my knowledge, the experienced certified trainer has been working on the Union staff since its inception in 2010 and therefore is spending his 18th season with the Boys in Blue. Rushing truly embodied the city of Philadelphia and his tough, Rocky-like mentality when he didn’t take any nonsense from Acevedo and tried to send him a message on his home pitch. It was only fitting to see him high-five the Union faithful in the Sons of Ben section as he left the field and put his imprint on the game, playing a large role in jolting a spark in the squad to score the game-winner in stoppage time and reclaim sole possession of first in the East.


"Featured Image: Brotherly Game/Morgan Tencza"
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