Referee erases two goals, hands out two red cards
One letter-of-the-law call by referee Mark Geiger and a host of other decisions turned a fiercely contested Eastern Conference clash between D.C. United and Philadelphia into utter chaos before 12,312 at RFK Stadium.
The 1-1 tie between United (11-8-4) and the Union (7-12-3) only seemed fitting because Major League Soccer was the loser, though D.C. United came a close second. Two goals were taken off the board, and two ejections will leave it short-handed for Wednesday's visit from Chicago.
"It's the Geiger show," United coach Ben Olsen said. "He wants to make the big call to change games. It's what they do. Coming back from the Olympics, it was his show tonight."
D.C. United believed it had done enough to deserve a victory despite falling behind in the first eight minutes. An own goal had tied the game in the 71st minute, and there was no doubt about Roger Torres' foul on Chris Pontius in the box in the 86th minute.
Dwayne De Rosario buried the ensuing penalty pick, but Geiger blew his whistle for encroachment on Hamdi Salihi, calling for a retake. De Rosario's next attempt bounced high off the crossbar, but that was only one piece of the madness that took hold.
"Salihi entered the penalty area arc within 10 yards of the ball before the ball was kicked," Geiger and the officiating crew said via a statement. "Since the ball entered the net, the kick must be retaken."
"I think that the call on the penalty is like a high school call," United president Kevin Payne said.
The problem was that Geiger had already called back an apparent goal by United in the 64th minute. Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath didn't make a clean save on De Rosario's shot, and after a rebound D.C. United midfielder Nick DeLeon scored. But a foul was called when Salihi and Philadelphia defender Gabriel Farfan converged on the ball and tumbled over MacMath.
While Geiger tried to sort out the rekick, Torres and Branko Boskovic scuffled over the ball. Boskovic was red-carded for his actions. Emiliano Dudar doubled the ejections with his tackle from behind on Antoine Hoppenot. Union defender Sheanon Williams was also ejected for a questionable tackle. He earned the ire of his United opponents with a time-wasting trudge off the field, similar to that of Freddy Adu earlier when he was subbed out of the game.
"I think he lose control from the game, and he was confused in the last 10 minutes," Salihi said.
The circus overshadowed the Boskovic free kick that Amobi Okugo headed into his own goal to tie the game and Philadelphia's early strike from former United midfielder Brian Carroll. The draw ended United's seven-game winning streak at home and was its first tie since April 18, a span of 16 matches.
"We've got to bitch and moan tonight, smash some lockers and then tomorrow forget about it," Olsen said.