Rapids’ Mastroeni on altercation that led to Howard’s suspension: ‘I think there was a security issue there’

“Walking a foot away from an angry fan who’s been drinking all game long who’s saying, ‘Howard, you f——g suck.’ What do you say? What do you do? Who in their right mind goes, ‘Thank you.’”
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Tim Howard. Colorado Rapids during game against FC Dallas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, July 23, 2016. Rapids took the lead in the first half, and lost the lead when DC Dallas scored in the second half and the game ended in a tie 1-1. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite) jessica taves; denverite; colorado rapids; fc dallas; sports; soccer; colorado; denver;

Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard will miss three games after Major League Soccer suspended him for two incidents that occurred in a 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on April 9.

The first, which was captured on video, was verbal. A fan screamed, "Go back to Colorado" at Howard. Howard replied with a four-letter obscenity that preceded the words "your" and "mother".

The second incident, which was not caught on video, reportedly got physical. ESPN reported that Howard "grabbed an SKC supporter by the arm" as the players were leaving the field.

On Tuesday, Rapids manager Pablo Mastroeni spoke about the altercations and said he believes the second one could have been avoided had there been better security at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City.

“I think there was a security issue there," Mastroeni said. 

"Walking a foot away from an angry fan who’s been drinking all game long who's saying, ‘Howard, you f-----g suck.’ What do you say? What do you do? Who in their right mind goes, ‘Thank you.’"

What led to Howard allegedly grabbing a fan's arm is not entirely clear. (Howard declined to talk about the matter Tuesday.)

Update, 4/21: Howard released a statement on his Facebook page Friday. Howard apologized for his behavior but also questioned the security presence at Children's Mercy Park.

A statement from the MLS Players Union over the weekend indicated that a fan came on to the field with alcohol in his hand and screamed profanities at Howard.

"The security provided by the league and Sporting Kansas City was wholly inadequate to protect players and fans," the statement read. "As Tim was attempting to leave the field, a fan with alcohol in hand was able to come within two feet of him on field level and aggressively scream obscenities in his face. That is unacceptable behavior anywhere and is not something that players, or anyone, should be subjected to in their workplace."

Mastroeni seemed to agree with that sentiment.

“This situation could have been defused had their been a better security standard," he said. "What I’m saying is that we have to do a better job of making sure we protect the players that are growing the game, that are continuing to be pioneers of the game, that are the stars of the game." 

We've reached out to Sporting KC to see what type of security was present at the April 9 game. We'll let you know what we find out.

Update, 7:50 p.m.: "Our only comment is that safety and security is a top priority for Sporting Kansas City," a Sporting KC spokesman said.

For now, the Rapids (1-1-3) will have to move forward without their star goalkeeper. They play Minnesota United on Sunday.

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