No need for a big set-up here, other than to say the final 10 minutes of D.C. United’s 1-1 draw Sunday with Philadelphia was one capital-sized mess. With the score even at 1-1, here’s what happened:
- With about five minutes remaining and the teams level at 1-1, Philadelphia’s Roger Torres fouled Chris Pontius to give D.C. United a potential go-ahead penalty kick. That was interesting on its own, because the recently injured Torres had just entered the match, without much time on the field lately. Sure enough, he looked sluggish, and his late tackle on Pontius was more evidence of it.
- Dwayne De Rosario kissed the ball and set it on the 12-yard spot, still looking for landmark goal No. 100. He has been stuck frustratingly on 98 goals since May 19. Yes, May 19. So it was a big moment for a bunch of reasons – not the least of which could be seen in the standings. United, beginning the day in 6th place in a race where only five spots pay, needs every possible point. So …
- De Rosario nailed the spot shot. But wait! …Referee Mark Geiger ordered a re-kick for encroachment; United striker Hamdi Salahi was the guilty party, false-starting his way about two steps inside the penalty arch.
- In the messy in-between of De Rosario’s efforts from the penalty spot, Branko Boskovic did something unseen by the cameras, apparently bundling over Torres or shoving him or something. So Geiger – in his 100th MLS match, interestingly – showed United’s playmaker a red card. That made it 10-on-11.
- Pushing and shoving ensued.
- Arlo White: “Oh, it’s all happening here at RFK Stadium!”
- Boskovic had changed the game, by the way, for United upon his 61st minute entrance. His ejection probably wouldn’t have mattered much had United taken the late, 2-1 lead. But …
- De Rosario’s second effort went high. Ooof! No. 100 is out there, somewhere. Right?
- With a man advantage, Philly pressed for the points. On one attack United center back Emiliano Dudar was shown a straight red for a nasty tackle in a situation that didn’t call for such a nasty tackle.
- Fair verdict from Geiger? Yes. A reckless lunge from behind with the studs exposed (on Antoine Hoppenot) is the textbook definition of a red card. So, now Philly was up two men now, although with only a couple of minutes remaining.
- Pushing and shoving ensued. And harsh words – but between teammates! Pontius was clearly annoyed at Dudar for the boneheaded lunge.
- Minutes later, as United broke on a counter, Philly defender Sheanon Williams tackled Pontius from behind. Williams appeared to get the ball on a pretty skillful tackle. Geiger didn’t see it that way, however, issuing the Philly right back a second yellow. So, it was 9 on 10.
- Pushing and shoving ensued. Some arguing, too.
- Williams complained vehemently of the decision (and correctly so). He might have a fine coming for not leaving the field in a timely manner. Meanwhile, somehow, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid decided it was a good idea to roam well out of goal to get involved. He was shown a yellow card for this idea.
- Arlo White: “It will be dark at RFK before this game is done.”
- Final whistle. Mercifully so for the NBC team of White and Kyle Martino, who deserve combat pay for trying to untangle this one. Truly, there was no time to ‘splain, only time to sum up.
- More pushing and shoving ensued – this time between teammates! United’s Chris Korb and Brandon McDonald had to be separated as they left the field. Manager Ben Olsen needs to be sure to sort that out.
- Final totals: 2 goals, 7 yellows, 3 reds
About Geiger’s performance: The re-kick was probably unnecessary, although not an egregiously poor decision. Salihi, a DP bust at RFK, managed to find a way to take two points off the board by scooting in too early. With De Rosario at the penalty kick spot, that’s just not something that needed to be done. No, that’s not a decision we see very often, but that’s beside the point. Salihi simply did not need to be in early.
The second yellow to Williams was incorrect, but tackling from behind in that situation is an invitation to trouble. Presumably, Geiger had a bad angle.
Overall, the man in the middle probably let too much go over the first 80 minutes. For everyone who likes to say “Let them play!” … well, this is what happens when you “Let them play.” You arrange a situation where things can spiral out of control – and then referees have no choice but to issue cards.