ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando City winger Nani had a brief confrontation with Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta, and both Acosta and Colorado coach Anthony Hudson took issue with the fact referee Jair Marrufo didn’t send Nani off for a head-butt.
Nani went down in the penalty area with the Lions down 3-2 in the 74th minute of Saturday’s match and came up looking for a penalty call. While Marrufo was talking to Rapids centerback Kofi Opare, Acosta and Nani got into an argument. Nani appeared to head-butt Acosta twice before the two were separated by Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer and Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Nani wasn’t disciplined during the match, other than a brief talking-to from Marrufo. That doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. The MLS Disciplinary Committee can announce fines and suspensions in the days after a match. Decisions are usually announced in the second half of the week.
Orlando City eventually won the match 4-3 thanks to a penalty kick in the 89th minute, which was converted by Nani.
“At 3-2, if we do what Nani does to us, I’m stood here asking questions why we can’t keep our discipline and we are down to 10 men,” Hudson told reporters after the match. “And it seems to be every week and it seems to be where it’s easy for them to, you know, for that to happen against us. My guarantee is you’d be asking me about our discipline if we do what Nani does, we’d be 10 men. So we’re 3-2, they should be down to 10 men, and we can’t ask anymore of the players.”
He added, “It’s disheartening and it’s tough when we make the mistakes we’ve made and every week we have decisions like this. Every week.”
After a pause, Hudson said, “Every game, every week, and I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming other things, but that’s the bottom line. If anyone looks at it, the guy had three attempts to head-butt Kellyn. I think, listen in think the bottom line is I probably wish some of our players were a little bit … probably Kellyn should dive. Probably Kellyn should fall over and pretend like he’s been hit in the head. Maybe that would have done the job, but I don’t know.”
Acosta called the situation “comical” in a tweet and shared video of the altercation.
— Kellyn Acosta (@KellynAcosta) April 7, 2019
Orlando City faces Real Salt Lake on the road on Saturday, while Colorado faces the Seattle Sounders at home on Wednesday.