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Jozy Altidore ambushed in tunnel by New York Red Bulls, claims Greg Vanney

Toronto FC’s coach says there’s a chance Altidore avoids a suspension.

It sounds like being a member of BMO Field’s tunnel club had some added incentives tonight.

The luxurious club, which as the name would indicate is adjacent to where the players walk to and from the field, gave fans a front row seat to an altercation between Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan at the end of the first half. Neither returned to the field to start the second half, shown red cards by referee Chris Penso.

This would mean Altidore at the very least missing the first leg of the Eastern Conference championship, joining fellow designated player Sebastian Giovinco on the sidelines (yellow card accumulation).

However, Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney is hopeful that MLS might review the incident.

“We’ve lost [Altidore and Giovinco] as of now,” said Vanney after the match. “There’s video footage, I think, of what happened in the tunnel. By my estimation, or what I’ve heard, Jozy basically got ambushed in the tunnel and we’ll see where that goes.”

Vanney said he did not see the start of the incident, as he was shepherding frustrated Toronto players off the field. However, he says he has a witness account and that the club is working on getting video of the incident.

“Jozy was followed in and basically confronted,” Vanney said of what he had heard from others. “He turned around, and my understanding is next thing you know there were four, five, six Red Bulls people all rushing him, towards him, at the same time. The rest, we’ll see.”

Altidore and Kljestan had already been jawing at each other before the incident. Things boiled over in the 34th minute when Kljestan lightly shoved Altidore and the Toronto striker dramatically fell to the ground. Both players were shown yellow cards.

Toronto captain Michael Bradley also saw yellow at the end of the first half for arguing with referee Penso, so didn’t see the incident. But he questions what members of the Red Bulls were doing near Toronto’s dressing room in the first place.

“Their locker room is in a totally separate part of the stadium; they shouldn’t be anywhere close to our locker room,” Bradley said. “Somehow, there’s 10 of their players and a bunch of their staff five feet, seven feet, from our locker room.”

If Toronto can somehow produce video evidence that gets the call reversed, it would be big news for the club. As of right now, starting the conference finals on the road without their two leading scorers is going to be a difficult proposition.