Sean Johnson wasn't looking to place blame on Zlatan Ibrahimovic following a short scuffle between the two during Saturday's MLS match pitting the goalkeeper's New York City FC team against the star forward's LA Galaxy.
Ibrahimovic appeared to wrap his hands around Johnson's neck late in the match, with both players ending up on the ground and in the referee's book following the clash.
A strike from Heber and a Maxi Moralez penalty had the New York outfit 2-0 up at halftime and the visiting club was trying to hang onto that lead in the 87th minute when Johnson and Ibrahimovic found themselves clashing.
Ibrahimovic rattled the crossbar with a shot and got entangled with the goalkeeper and both tried to recover in time to deal with the rebound, which was sent over the bar by Chris Pontius.
The forward appeared to wrap his hands around the neck of the goalkeeper and the to spilled to the turf, but Johnson was quick to say after the match that he felt the need to show that he and his side were not going to back down from the former Manchester United and PSG star.
“I don’t think there were any hugs, he is just a competitor," he told reporters. "I think you guys will watch the replay and decide for yourselves, but at the end of the day, in the heat of the battle, you want to do what you can to protect the guys, make sure we see the game out no matter what and make sure they know we are here to play, we are not going to be walked over.
"I think in any moment, anybody is up for the challenge, including myself and you know, Zlatan is a talented player, he obviously knows what he is doing, he is a clever boy and you know, it is a part of the game."
Ibrahimovic, who picked up a fine for diving earlier in the week, could also face action from the league for his use of hands to the neck or face should it be deemed to be violent content.
For now, it is only a yellow card for the forward and for the goalkeeper, and Johnson says that he can understand the frustration, crediting his own side with a job well done in stopping one of the most prolific strikers in the league.
"I would be frustrated if I were him too, you know, can’t blame him for his frustration at that point in the game," he said. "Obviously our boys did a job today to keep him off the scoresheet and he is only happy when he is scoring, so job done. We will take the three points and go back.
"I think we can look back and say we got the best out of the whole situation today.”