Major League Soccer suspended FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga for three matches after he allegedly confronted officials after their first-round playoff game earlier this month.
Miazga was officially suspended and hit with an undisclosed fine Wednesday for “misconduct” after a Nov. 4 win over the New York Red Bulls. Miazga, who was named the league’s Defender of the Year this season, will also have to undergo a behavioral assessment through MLS’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.
The suspension will kick in immediately, starting with Saturday’s Eastern Conference Final against the Columbus Crew, and will carry over into the 2024 season.
FC Cincinnati beat the Red Bulls in a penalty shootout earlier this month to win the series and advance in the playoffs. Miazga, who is a former Red Bulls player, was booked three times over those two matches — including once for dissent after referee Victor Rivas had blown the whistle for full time.
Then after the game, Miazga allegedly entered the officials’ locker room and confronted them. The Professional Soccer Referees Association said that an unidentified player “was forcibly removed by stadium security while acting in an aggressive and hostile manner.” Video evidence, according to ESPN, showed Miazga entering the referee locker room to try and speak with Rivas.
That prompted an MLS investigation, which eventually led to his suspension Wednesday.
Miazga, 28, is in his second season with Cincinnati this year. He got his professional start with the Red Bulls from 2013-15, and then spent seven seasons playing in Europe — which included runs with Chelsea in the Premier League and Alavés in La Liga.
Cincinnati and Columbus will square off Saturday afternoon. The winner of the match will take on the winner of the Western Conference Final between LAFC and the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup Final next week.
UPDATE: The MLS Players Association released a statement on Thursday regarding Miazga's suspension, which included:
"Both the match report approved by the officials and the statements released by the PSRA [Professional Soccer Referees Association] regarding the incident contained material falsehoods. Since then, the PSRA has not only failed to correct these falsehoods, its President has continued to repeat them publicly."