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As play between Portland and Kansas City became more physical, two players went to blows and received red cards in the final minutes of the game. AP Photo/Amanda Loman

  • A brawl nearly broke out between the players of Portland Thorns and Kansas City NWSL.

  • During their NWSL Challenge Cup game Friday, play became increasingly physical and dirty.

  • Eight cards were issued in total, including four red cards in the final four minutes of the game.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The National Women’s Soccer League season got out to a chippy start this weekend.

The Portland Thorns and Kansas City NWSL played the nightcap on the opening day of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup on Friday. And as Kansas City pushed for an equalizer late in the second half, play from both sides became more physical and tensions rose.

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Players from the Portland Thorns and Kansas City NWSL squabble at the end of the match. AP Photo/Amanda Loman

Then, as regulation transitioned into stoppage time, the dam burst.

In the 90th minute of the contest, Portland forward Simone Charley and Kansas City defender Kate Del Fava both earned yellow cards. Charley’s was her second of the evening, meaning a red card and an automatic ejection from the game.

After arguing the call from the sideline with “offensive, insulting, and abusive language and/or actions,” according to the women’s soccer journalist Katelyn Best, Thorns head coach Mark Parsons was issued a red card of his own just a minute later.

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Simone Charley receives her second yellow card of the match. Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Two minutes after that, the soccer game seemingly transformed into a wrestling match. Portland’s Tyler Lussi dribbled to the corner flag in order to shield the ball and shed time off the clock, but Kansas City’s Kristen Edmonds used her body to try to push Lussi off the ball. Thorns forward Morgan Weaver came in to offer support for her teammate, but as Lussi lost the ball, Weaver obstructed Edmonds from chasing the ball behind her.

Edmonds reached around Weaver’s waist and pulled her to the turf along the sideline. Then, as the duo rose to their feet, they collided while running upfield. Edmonds swung her left arm up as Weaver pushed her away, and Edmonds launched her right hand directly into Weaver’s face.

The two exchanged words from there, getting into each other’s faces and motioning as if they could go to blows again before Weaver raised her hands and turned around. Players from both sides ran in to offer their teammates backup, but the referee arrived just behind them to break up the altercation and show red cards to both Weaver and Edmonds.

With two other yellow cards doled out in the first half of the contest, Friday’s grudge match ended with a whopping eight cards issued in total, including four red cards in the final four minutes of the contest. The Thorns came away with the 2-1 win, but it cost them some personnel going forward.

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The referee shows a red card to Kansas City’s Kristen Edmonds. Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Those shown red cards will be unable to participate in their team’s subsequent games, coincidentally dates with the Chicago Red Stars for both teams. But Portland owner Merritt Paulson tweeted shortly after the game that he intended to appeal the red card given to Weaver given that she got “rugby tackled and then punched….all while maintaining composure.”

He also shared what appeared to be security footage from Providence Park in an attempt to absolve Weaver of blame. You be the judge:

Read the original article on Insider