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Portland coach Giovanni Savarese after Saturday night's game said a Minnesota United player directed a racial slur at Timbers star Diego Chara.

Savarese started his postgame media conference by speaking for nearly two minutes about what he called a "racist situation, a racial discriminatory word" said to Chara in the second half at Portland's Providence Park.

Savarese called the alleged incident "not acceptable" and said he was "very and extremely disappointed that still at this time we have to deal with situations that should not be happening in any sport or anywhere."

He did not name the Loons player nor specify the word or phrase used.

In a Sunday statement, Major League Soccer said it had already started an investigation. It said further information will be provided when the investigation is complete.

"MLS has zero tolerance for abusive and offensive language, and we take these allegations very seriously," the statement said.

Minnesota United released its own statement, saying it has been investigating the matter and that the unidentified player involved denied making "any derogatory remarks." A team spokesman said the player told coach Adrian Heath and several teammates he did not say such things and those teammates told Heath and others they didn't hear him say such things.

"MNUFC is built on inclusivity and respect and does not tolerate discrimination under any circumstances," the statement said.

Savarese criticized referee Rosendo Mendoza for his handling of the situation, which created a three-minute debate delay starting in the game's 63rd minute.

The delay came after Chara, a Colombian, collided with and kicked toward Loons Argentinian midfielder Franco Fragapane from behind, knocking Fragapane to the turf while he tried to control the ball with his chest.

Mendoza conferred with other game officials and then separately with Chara, Timbers captain Diego Valeri and the Loons' Wil Trapp and captain Michael Boxall.

"The referee should have handled this situation in a much better way," Savarese said.

The Professional Referee Organization said the referee "acted appropriately" in accordance with diversity and anti-discrimination training protocols. It said in its own statement the referee was unable to discipline anyone because he and other game officials did not witness or hear the alleged comment.

Slurs, between players and from fans directed at players, have led to recent changes in soccer overseas. In Spain's La Liga, Valencia players left the field during a game in April after alleging a Cadiz player used a racial slur. Game officials there were given new instructions about how to handle such situations.

The English Premier League has asked game officials to stop games when fans continue to direct racial abuse after they have been warned to stop. Referees stopped a game between the United States national men's team and Mexico in June because fans persistently chanted a homophobic slur.

Savarese wanted game officials to take action Saturday.

"We all are in support of Diego Chara about what happened to him today," Savarese said. "The discriminatory word that was said to him should not have a place anywhere at this time, and I'm extremely disappointed that it was not taken as serious as it should have been."

Fragapane assisted on the game's only goal, in the second minute of a 1-0 Minnesota United victory.

The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.