There was some debate about this one online, but any discussion of this Lloyd Sam red card has to begin with some context. There’s a class of foul that transcends the normal timing of a tackle and becomes pure dangerous play. Present sufficient danger to anybody on the field, and you’re going to get dismissed. And when a player leaves his feet and goes into a tackle studs first, that usually becomes sufficiently dangerous.
In that light it’s worth asking: If this isn’t a studs up, two-footed tackle, what is? A play that makes greater contact? That doesn’t change the reality of the offense, only the damage. When a player launches himself into a tackle feet first, they’ve already committed the foul.
You don’t want to read too much into a player’s reaction, but when you see Sam’s body language, it sure seems he knows what he’s done. The Red Bulls’ attacker keeps his head down as Baldomero Toledo brandishes the card, his eyes never leaving the ground as he leaves the field.
When Sam was dismissed, Philadelphia was already up 1-0, Conor Casey having put the Union up in the seventh minute. Second half goals by Casey and Antoine Hoppenot sealed the victory for John Hackworth’s side, who suddenly find themselves in second place in a tight Eastern Conference.
New York, meanwhile, are even on points with Philadelphia but slide to third thanks to tiebreakers. If Sam hadn’t excused himself, however, the Red Bulls may still be holding on to their second place perch.