Referees had to stop a soccer match in Pennsylvania for several minutes Wednesday after stadium attendants tried but failed to capture a loose raccoon. MLS has gained notoriety in the United States in recent years, but if more ring-tailed invaders take to the pitch as one did this week, the sport is sure to gain mainstream attention in no time.

Screw it, raccoon highlights. 🦝 pic.twitter.com/n1weQHrmKe

— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 16, 2024

The match between the Philadelphia Union and NYCFC ended in a 2-1 victory for New York City. Still, the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the appearance of “Raquinho,” the name given to the raccoon by fans. After an initial failure to contain the animal with a trash can, the commentary team quickly grew befuddled as the desperate, scurrying search continued at Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

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“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite as bizarre as this, particularly given the amount of time he’s remained on the field,” Apple TV commentator Callum Williams said during the pursuit.

Multiple stadium workers chased the raccoon the entire field length, trying several times to trap it before it inevitably scurried out of reach. It took three tries and a considerable chase to finally capture the smoky-eyed football fan, drawing ire from spectators who had quickly become its supporters.

Following the game, the Union announced that a pest control company had returned the raccoon to the wild. Some criticized that decision, however, claiming that the animal’s mobility on the pitch warranted contract considerations for some teams. Philadelphia, which fell to ninth place early in the MLS season with the loss, was considered the best candidate for the aspiring footballer or “most valuable pest.”

Interruptions of this nature are immensely popular among sports fans, as similar incidents at baseball and football games have always drawn attention. As MLS gains more widespread acceptance in the United States, it is only fitting that the league enjoys a similarly silly moment.

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