Loons’ winger Franco Fragapane plays on amid MLS investigation

Winger Franco Fragapane played all 90 minutes in the Loons’ 2-2 draw with San Jose on Saturday as MLS has yet to share the result of the investigation into his alleged racist comment toward Timbers’ midfielder Diego Chara last week.

Fragapane, who has not spoken to media members, has consistently denied the accusation, according to manager Adrian Heath, and it’s unclear what evidence the league might have beyond Chara’s word against Fragapane’s.

Heath was asked if Fragapane’s inclusion Saturday was just a case of innocent until proven otherwise. “That’s American law; isn’t it?” Heath said. “I didn’t know we were guilty by association, so we’ll see. Hopefully we will have a resolution in the next few days.”

If the league’s Disciplinary Committee has found a way to corroborate Chara’s claim, the new Argentine winger could face a multi-game suspension. If not, Fragapane will likely be able to play on. A decision could come as soon as Monday.

Two Loons players, Hassani Dotson and Wil Trapp, were on the field during the incident in Minnesota’s 1-0 win at Providence Park on June 26; they said they did not hear anything. Trapp added that Referee Rosendo Mendoza and Timbers captain Diego Valeri also didn’t hear it.

There is a precedent when an accusation is levied, but can’t be confirmed.

In 2018, LAFC forward Adama Diomande accused a Timbers player of a slur during a U.S. Open Cup match. Three weeks later, the U.S. Open Cup Adjudication and Discipline Panel said there was insufficient evidence to conclude the Portland player used a discriminatory term. In that case, the accused and unidentified Timbers player strongly denied the slur in the investigation, and the review found no other individual able to confirm it.

SHE SAID ‘YES!’

Instead of it coming from a fan on the Jumbotron, Dotson proposed to his girlfriend Petra after Saturday’s game. With a ring in hand, he got down on one knee; she gasped in excitement, putting her hands to her mouth and, at least, was seen nodding.

“It’s incredible,” teammate Chase Gasper said. “His fiancé, Petra, is amazing. She visits all the time, so we are so happy for them. He’s such a great guy. Knowing Hassani, you knew this was going to come eventually, sooner rather than later, so we are all just so happy for him. What a great moment and to do it in front of the Minnesota United fans was so cool. We all thought it was a great idea.”

Gasper wasn’t willing to give away Dotson’s prep work without his pre-approval, but Loons staff members were poised to capture the moment as soon as the game ended. She might have gotten the hint, too, wearing a knee-length white dress.

BOXALL INJURY

Loons captain Michael Boxall injured his groin near his hip joint and was subbed out in the 29th minute; he will have a magnetic resonance imaging test Sunday, Heath said. Boxall was called into New Zealand’s national team for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and was expected to leave the Loons after Wednesday’s game at Colorado.

“Obviously we don’t know where that (injury) is going to leave him regarding the Olympics, etcetera, but we will have a better idea (Sunday) when he’s had a night’s rest and we see where he is,” Heath said.

KALLMAN’S GOAL

Brent Kallman stepped in for Boxall and scored his first goal since the club’s inaugural MLS season on Oct. 7, 2017. The center back from Woodbury then played 48 games before scoring again.

“The goal was weird,” Kallman acknowledged. It came on a Emanuel Reynoso corner kick in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. Fragapane first tried to do a bicycle kick, but it went to Kallman.

‘I took a horrible touch and I don’t think I should have got to the ball, but maybe it was me leaning on him and putting pressure on him, I kind of realized, ‘Oh man, I have a chance to get here,’ ” Kallman said. “I just wrapped my hips as much as I could to try to get it across the goal and on target and it went in.”

Kallman’s family is in Omaha for the Fourth of July, but he looked up to the stands to share the moment with his girlfriend and a friend.

NOT READY

Attacker Robin Lod has returned to Minnesota from Helsinki, Finland, where he had a meeting for his U.S. green card, but was out of game-day roster. With defender Romain Metanire in France for his own green card appointment, Jukka Raitala stepped in at right back and D.J. Taylor subbed into that spot at halftime to make his MLS debut.

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