Bruce Arena

CARSON, Calif. – Nigel de Jong’s tackle on Darlington Nagbe has been a hot button issue around Major League Soccer and LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is less than pleased.  

The Galaxy will be without De Jong for at least one game after his late-game tackle on Darlington Nagbe during the team’s 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers last week. Official word of the suspension has not yet been determined, but the foul has been much talked about throughout American soccer circles.

“I think it’s hysteria. I think obviously Nigel has to understand this; he has a reputation that precedes him. If that was any other player in that tackle, it would not have received the hysteria that it has. I think the press and others have failed miserably in reporting the incident and what actually happened. The player probably wasn’t hurt on the tackle, which no one has reported. Darlington Nagbe is a great kid and a great player, and we certainly don’t want him to be injured on a bad tackle. I think it was a mistimed tackle by Nigel. A bad tackle on that play is going to the ground and going over the ball with excessive force. That was not the case on that play.

“From my understanding of our doctor was that he received a bruise. The ankle injury was there before the game. He had an injured ankle coming into the game. He went down 10 minutes before that. Then obviously all the hysteria was there. If it’s another player, it’s not as publicized. We don’t condone the tackle, it was a mistimed tackle, it was not a vicious tackle. A bad tackle certainly. Whoever reads intent … what I know of Nigel in our short time together is he’s a great player and person, and he wasn’t trying to hurt the player, believe me. It was mistimed. As a tackle it’s clearly a yellow card and arguably a red card, there’s no excuse for it. Fortunately, it wasn’t a tackle that injured the player.”

As for what the cause of that hysteria, Arena points to external entities.

“Hysteria is the fault of social media. It’s the fault of people in MLS and in the offices that do that and feeds the whole thing. And the journalism,” he said. “No one’s actually interviewed the player, anything like that. It’s been blown out of proportion but rightfully so because of how everyone wanted to make this player into a villain. And obviously, with the incidents he’s had previously it invites that. We understand that.”