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Union questions security after Howard suspension

By ANNE M. PETERSON

AP Sports Writer

A day after Major League Soccer suspended Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard for an altercation with a fan, the MLS Players Union questioned security at Sporting Kansas City's stadium.

On Friday night the league suspended Howard for three games for profane language directed toward a fan during a Rapids' game at Kansas City last Sunday, as well as an altercation with a fan following the match. The Rapids lost 3-1. .

The longtime U.S. national team star, who formerly played with Manchester United and Everton in the English Premier League, also was fined by MLS.

"While this is out of character for Tim, we do not condone these actions," the Rapids said in a statement after the discipline was imposed. "We accept the league's decision and look forward to moving past this. The incidents that took place during our match at Sporting Kansas City last weekend do not represent the Colorado Rapids Soccer Club or Tim's character and beliefs, on and off the pitch."

But on Saturday the players' union said it was disappointed at how the situation was handled by MLS and suggested security at Children's Mercy park was not adequate.

"Following the incidents, which involved a verbal exchange with a fan, as well as an altercation after the game, Tim acknowledged his culpability and responsibility for his role," the union said in a statement. "However, he is the only one involved to do so."

The union cited the league's Fan Code of Conduct, which prohibits disorderly behavior including verbal abuse, and said there were no repercussions for Kansas City fans during the game.

"The security provided by the league and Sporting Kansas City was wholly inadequate to protect players and fans," the union statement said. "As Tim was attempting to leave the field, a fan with alcohol in hand was able to come within two feet of him on field level and aggressively scream obscenities in his face. That is unacceptable behavior anywhere and is not something that players, or anyone, should be subjected to in their workplace."

Sporting Kansas City said Saturday the safety is one of the club's top priorities.

The Rapids were scheduled to host Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. Zac MacMath is expected to replace Howard in goal for Colorado.

Updated April 15, 2017

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