Tragedy Strikes as 36 Fans Crushed Fleeing MLS Match

An all-too-common soccer tragedy that has hit many other parts of the world unfortunately struck the United States last night as 36 people were crushed to death – and dozens more injured – as fans packed against exit gates in fleeing a particularly unwatchable MLS match.
“This is a sad day for American soccer,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber. “But there’s always a bright side to everything, and I think we showed the world that American fans can be just as passionate about the sport and our league as they are the sport and their league. I just wish it was because people were trying to get into an MLS game, not out. I suppose that’s where the comparison kind of falls apart.”
Jason Lannan, who suffered cuts and bruises in the disaster during the Chicago Fire-DC United match at Washington’s RFK Stadium, said he is unsure why so many fans chose to suddenly leave the sloppy, mistake-ridden contest.
“From the beginning I got the sense that a lot of people in the stadium, for whatever reason, had no patience for a typical MLS game that night,” said Lampard. “We’re all soccer lovers – or we wouldn’t be there – so that’s why watching MLS is so difficult for us. It blows. And when the mistakes started to pile up – a bad turnover here, a missed mark there, a trip and fall over there – the disenchantment really started to boil. I decided I’d rather leave, beat traffic and maybe catch a European match on tape delay at home."
But, tragically, many other fans were thinking the same thing.
"As I looked around, I caught the eyes of a lot of other people who seemed to be ready to bolt, too," he said. "So I ran from my seat to try to beat everyone else to the parking lot. But everyone else got up and went, too. That’s when hell broke loose.”
Robin Reynolds, who lost her husband and a son in the disaster, says the scene as fans raced for the exit gates was unlike anything she has ever witnessed.
“A lot of people at MLS games have played soccer in the past and are in good shape, so the crowd was really moving at a fast speed,” said Reynolds. “But as soon as we hit the bottleneck at the exit gates, people started going down and were unable to push themselves back up – maybe because soccer players aren’t good with their hands, who knows."
Reynolds said she saw people falling all around here, including her husband and son.
"My dear son screamed out: ‘Save us, Thierry Henry!’ And as my husband had the life crushed out of him, I heard him cry: ‘Let heaven be like the Premiership, dear Lord.’ I miss them both so much already, but I hope they are both up there enjoying fast-paced, skilled soccer – just like it is supposed to be played. And I hope that one day I will join them. And maybe even as soon as this weekend, because I have tickets to another match and I'm not sure I can suffer through it alone."


Advertisement