Featured / Union

Handbags in Costa Rica

The Union’s scrimmage with Belen on Thursday ended in the first half after a scuffle broke out with the Union already down 2–0.

A report on the Belen website (crappy translation here; did the first goal come from a PK?)) accuses the Union of engaging in “anti-football.” The report continues, “What most annoyed the Belemitas was the attitude of the coaching staff who, from the beginning, did not stop shouting insults not only to the players but also the Belen referee and his assistants. The scene was so embarrassing that the local leaders decided to suspend the meeting.”

The report quotes Belen midfielder Jose Luiz Lopez as saying, “It was an immature attitude of the coach. From the beginning, they just treated us and the officials as stupid. The players were dedicated to kicking and elbowing.”

A link to a video posted on YouTube first tweeted by Fox Deportes columnist Juan Carlos Agüero shows the kerfuffle apparently following—after a quick edit— a reckless challenge from Michael Farfan, who it must be said already appears somewhat agitated in the lead-up to the tackle. Handbags follow (with a particularly nice throw down from Zac MacMath) before John Hackworth and others can be seen separating players. Another edit later and Hackworth can be seen pointing and gesticulating at the match officials before turning and walking away. In the background,  Danny Califf can be seen moving to prevent a Belen player from approaching another Union player (Pfeffer?) before the footage ends.

So, what do we know from  this 1 minute and 39 second edited video and a brief report on the opposing team’s website? Perhaps, most importantly, we know the Union’s set piece defending still looks questionable.

Other than that— oh, my!— a scuffle broke out in a preseason game. What happened to make Marfan appear agitated before the tackle? From the footage, an edit prevents us from knowing. Yes, Keon Daniel threw the ball at someone, Brian Carroll took a check, and MacMath did some impressive bouncing. But it doesn’t appear that any punches were thrown, although there was a moment or two of spirited kicking going on at at the start of the scuffle—none of which seemed to connect in any damaging way to anything other than the ball.

Oh, and it was windy in Costa Rica on Thursday.

Anyway, so far as the footage goes, Hackworth seems to be the only Union coach who could be doing anything to justify the Belen report’s unattributed surmise about the Union coaches’ “attitude.” And Hackworth, who did us all a disservice by not wearing a microphone, otherwise seems to do little more than some emphatic gesturing before turning way from the fray.

Stating the obvious, what is missing from this is the Union players’ and coaches’ part of the story. That is if if anyone thinks this is actually much of a meaningful story—it is a a fun story, no doubt— but, what with the fact that, you know, the real season starts in little more than a week, how relevant is this? Given the Union’s general lack of information sharing, there’s little reason to expect much comment from them. In fact, Jonathan Tannenwald reported via Twitter that, as of Thursday night, the team had no comment. What would they say, anyway?

Some rampant Twitter speculation aside, at most, we can probably put this incident down as an unexpected exercise in team building—after all, there’s nothing like a fight to bring everyone together, even if it doesn’t really look like much of fight really happened.


  1. Greg Orlandini says:


  2. I had a coach that use to tell us “if your not able to put it in the net to win at lease let them know you’re on the field to play and play hard.” Go “UNION”

  3. Farfan’s getting mugged mere seconds before he makes that harsh tackle from behind. Granted, he needs to keep his head on straight, but I’d be looking for blood too if I were in his shoes.

  4. I’m more concerned about free kick goal they gave up then the “fight”. That guy was wide open!!

  5. tough season may be ahead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *