Raccoon invades field and dodges trash can-wielding officials at MLS game

American sports may have seen its most epic battle of the year: a single raccoon vs a team of men trying to capture it with trash cans.

The stripy-tailed interloper stopped play for almost two minutes in the Major League Soccer game between that Philadelphia Union and New York City FC on Wednesday night, prompting a battle of wit and skill with staff members on the field of Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

“We need to find him a ball, because he’s moving very well in the center of midfield,” said Callum Williams, the commentator on Apple TV.

“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” he added.

A stadium official approached the urban scavenger with the most appropriate of impromptu capture devices — a trash can — but the creature was too quick and got away.

After the furry fugitive had run almost the full length of the field in its bid for freedom, a second staff member then tried to stop it before a third man armed with yet another trash can finally managed to capture it.

By that point, the match commentators were rooting for the raccoon.

“This is marvelous entertainment. Go on, raccoon! You can get away,” Williams said, adding, “Don’t hurt him!” as the plastic prison was at last put into place.

Dubbed “Raquinho” by some, it now holds the not particularly well-contested record of having spent the most minutes by any raccoon on the field in MLS history, the league said.

Fans speculated which team would be first to sign the raccoon, given its impressive footwork and acceleration. A YouTube commentator argued that it had already shown more promise than any Manchester United attacker this season.

A local pest control company picked up the raccoon and released back into the wild, the Philadelphia Union said in a statement on X.

The raccoon's appearance was not a good omen for the home team: Philadelphia lost the game 2-1, leaving it in ninth place in the MLS table after 12 games.

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