D.C., Philadelphia play to draw after chaotic finish at RFK Stadium

UnionUnited (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Three red cards, two controversially disallowed goals and a missed penalty by a reigning MVP with the game in the balance. Just another run-of-the-mill outing for rivals D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union.

When the dust settled after a series of hard tackles, lost tempers and focus-altering calls by referee Mark Geiger, the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in front of 12,312 at RFK Stadium, with Brian Carroll's eighth-minute tally being offset by Amobi Okugo's 64th-minute own goal. 

With the result, D.C. remained unbeaten at home since an opening night loss to Sporting Kansas City (8-0-3) and retook sole possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference, while Philadelphia blew a 1-0 lead and missed a chance to secure three necessary points with the club's playoff chances growing slimmer by the game.

While the goals are what decided the result, what happened in the latter stages of the match was cause for controversy. 

After Chris Pontius drew a penalty on Roger Torres in the 86th minute, Dwayne De Rosario — with NBC Sports Network's camera's following his every move for the next installment of MLS36 — stepped to the spot and converted. 

Geiger whistled for a retake though, with the postgame explanation given to D.C. being that Hamdi Salihi entered the arc atop the box and came within 10 yards of the ball before it was struck. With D.C. players bracing for a retake, Philadelphia attempted to play on, and while Branko Boskovic attempted to retrieve the ball from Torres, he entered a physical altercation with the diminutive Colombian and was given a straight red card. After cooler heads prevailed, De Rosario skied his retake, keeping the score level.

In stoppage time, D.C. was reduced to nine men after centerback Emiliano Dudar entered into a harsh challenge from behind on Antoine Hoppenot, but the Union could not capitalize on the two-man advantage, and they were reduced to 10 themselves when Sheanon Williams was sent off for his second yellow on what appeared to be a clean tackle from behind on Pontius. 

All of those events followed Okugo's inadvertent header off Boskovic's dangerous free kick in the 71st minute that cancelled out Carroll's tally. The D.C. goal came minutes after an apparent equalizer was wiped off the board in the 64th minute. Nick DeLeon finished into an empty net after a parried save by Zac MacMath was touched away by both Salihi and Gabriel Farfan. Salihi fell over MacMath, though, with the contact preventing the Union keeper from getting up to try and defend DeLeon's follow-up shot, and the goal was taken off the board. 

Carroll, a D.C. midfielder from 2003-2007, marked his latest return to RFK by poking home a ball on the line after a long Freddy Adu free kick in the eighth minute. Adu's 40-yard lofted ball into the mixer pinballed off two players before being inadvertenly headed by Perry Kitchen toward the goal, where Carroll got the final touch.

D.C.'s first chance to equalize came in the 10th minute, when Pontius ripped a blast from 35 yards that was tipped over the bar for a corner. Newcomer Lionard Pajoy, acquired in a trade with Philadelphia for Danny Cruz on Thursday, headed on target off the ensuing corner kick, but MacMath touched it over for another corner.

As the half wound down, D.C. got more dangerous. De Rosario curved a ball from 20 yards just high after smart interplay between Pajoy and Pontius, with Pajoy laying off a ball for the D.C. captain at the top of the box. Pajoy nearly tallied again just before halftime, but Adu headed his header off a corner off the line just seconds before the break to preserve the lead. 

D.C. has the task of moving on to a match against the surging Chicago Fire on Wednesday with both Boskovic and Dudar ineligible because of their red card suspensions. The Union have a couple of more days to prepare for life without Williams for another nationally televised contest, when Real Salt Lake comes to PPL Park on Friday.

Here are highlights from the match:

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74 Responses to D.C., Philadelphia play to draw after chaotic finish at RFK Stadium

  1. Chris says:

    Even by MLS standards, that was bizarre.

  2. obxfly says:

    I sure hope Ben Olsen did some yelling in the locker room after the game. Some stupid mistakes by quite a few DC players cost them the game in the last ten minutes.

  3. JoeW says:

    Should have been 3-1 DCU. And Geiger totally lost control at the end. That wasn’t just a case of some botched calls (and there were botched calls on both sides) but a complete loss of control of the match.

  4. Andy says:

    Anybody clear on what that scuffled was about amongst DCU players after the final whistle?

  5. Chris says:

    That was horrible refereeing even by MLS standards. Philly players falling down to waste time. Fist fights breaking out. Unexplainable calls and over reacting by sending players off. It is bush league. MLS will not progress as a product until it cleans up the officiating and how games are managed.

    DC has no one to blame but themselves though for leaving 2 points on the table at home.

  6. Elgringorico says:

    Dc was the better team and robbed of the win. Sure, they coud have kept cooler heads but they were simply reactin to a) an incredibly poorly called game and B) classless philly players wasting time.

  7. Elgringorico says:

    They could blame the ref for 2+ disallowed goals

  8. Bub says:

    Dc was the better team in the second half…got a little unlucky…I’m a Philly fan, I don’t have as much to complain about in this game, but I love this rivalry. It was a tough game for both teams, fun to watch!

    Let’s go union, squeak into the playoffs!

  9. Chris says:

    Completely agree. It just frustrates me to no end as a DC fan that we allow the ref to decide the game. The need to keep their cool and get the 3 points. Next time, let’s finish more chances and happily laugh after the game about the pathetic officiating with a win.

    I’m also a little worried that the Disciplinary Committee may issue more suspensions. Bill Hamid was loosing his S after the whistle.

  10. pd says:

    This union fan agrees with your assessment. Happy to take the point, though!

  11. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    Once again MacMath fails to deal with a cross. He’s no better than Seitz. With a proper goalkeeper, Philly would be looking good for 5th or 6th as opposed to looking unlikely for the playoffs.

  12. Eric says:

    The replay doesn’t do a good job of showing what happened at the end of the game. Anyone willing to give a recap?

  13. PD says:

    Is anyone taking odds on whether this guy ever refs again?

  14. Robert Daniels says:

    6th still misses out on playoffs just to let you know

  15. wxdancer says:

    Should be suspended for a month. Worst officiated match in years.

  16. Conrad says:

    At least we didn’t have to see the embarrassing DeRosario goal pop-n-lock celebration. Second only to Robby Keane’s “Vegas Showman” deal.

  17. fischy says:


    Some stupid mistakes from the referee cost them the win. And, he compounded his incompetence showing one undeserved red card after another, so that there are 3 players now missing the next game even though the did not deserve it. The irony is that Lahoud should have been shown the door for a second yellow at least twice.

  18. fischy says:

    Falling down? How about Freddy Adu, who refused to leave the field when he was being substituted out?

    DCU has no one to blame but themselves? After you just acknowledged how badly Geiger botched it, that statement just looks stupid.

  19. JoeW says:

    At the end of regulation, you have the penalty call against Philly (Torres trips Pontius…good call, no embellishment by Pontius). DeRo takes the PK and converts it. But Geiger sees encroachment by two Philly players and orders it retaken. While he is doing this, Philly has put the ball in play (no McMath) and Torres is racing past midfield. Boskovic grabs him and pulls him to a stop. Torres than puts a head lock on Boskovic. Boskovic then puts a headlock on Torres. Other players convene at midfield. The referee gives Boskovic a straight red, I believe that Torres gets a yellow, another Philly player I believe receives a yellow. McMath is now standing over the ball at the penalty spot with his face in front of DeRo’s. Hamid has raced up to midfield and he and Sheanon Williams begin to push each other. One of the ARs and a DCU player get between the two of them. Unprompted, Wlliams then simulates that he has been hurt and falls to the ground on his face and writhes on the ground somewhat. Players are separated, focus returns to the PK. DeRo attempts to chip and McMath, gets under the ball and instead bounces it off the crossbar.

    I’m sure I missed a few details. But that’s what I picked up from being at the game and then reviewing the highlights of the match.

  20. Tyler says:

    Geiger was pathetic.

  21. elgringorico says:

    RE: the williams red. Like the rest of the calls in the game it was a bad call but you see how he just falls to the ground after HIS OWN player touches him. Hamid should keep his cool but he shouldn’t be suspended for trying to get that little idiot off the field.

    Also these highlights don’t show one other disallowed DC goal. And a few key passes that deflected off the stupid ref.

  22. Eric says:

    Saw all that. I’m more confused by what happened between what looked like MacDonald and Korb right after the game.

  23. Spencer says:

    Maybe the league will finally do the right thing and suspend a ref when they have a game so bad. When they swing the outcome of a game to such an extent due to bad calls it must be punished. This is unacceptable especially now that players have to sit out the next game because of a bad call. On top of that you won’t get the goals back either. He should not be allowed to ref the next 2 games and then make him work his way back up starting with being the 4th official and then letting him be an AR till he is deemed fit to ref again.

  24. fjoro says:

    Matt Geiger was the MLS Referee of the Year for 2011; he’s the best they’ve got. The year before, it was Kevin Stott, so I’m not sure what the criteria are.

  25. ThaDeuce says:

    As a D.C. fan, can I legitimately blame this tie on the referee?

  26. ThaDeuce says:

    I believe mcdonald got in korb’s face for some reason, and korb reacted.

  27. ThaDeuce says:

    would like to know more about that.

    also, i thought pontius cussing out dudar, who got a red when shoulda been yellow, was the wrong reaction. support your effin teammate man! yell at the ref who overreacted!!! b.s. i don’t like seeing these players not backing up their teamates. but even worse, they are playing the blame game. if pontius and mcdonald are the leaders of this locker room and this is how they react when the chips are down- blaming their teamates instead of defending them and rallying- then d.c. does not deserve the playoffs. i am a fan of d.c.

  28. hogatroge says:

    Not meant as a knock–since some of Philly’s antics are well documented–but your perspective seems like it may be a little biased.

    It’s a shame MLS has the game blacked out for 2 days.

    Anyone DVR this and have more insight?

  29. hogatroge says:

    Their union contract probably says they draw lots or something.

  30. hogatroge says:

    Is Geiger the same guy that reffed an atrocious HOU – SKC match last year where the Dynamo ended up down 2 men (and maybe SKC got an RC that I can’t remember)?

  31. hogatroge says:

    BTW, IIRC, Houston deserved the 2nd red (1st was highly dubious), but I was at the game and overall the calls were crap both ways. I reviewed them later and didn’t change my mind.

  32. dave says:

    While the ref was poor and lost control, there was encroachment by DC. The circle counts, and a DC player was in the circle. It was a good call.

    The chaos that came after that is an embarassment to the ref and MLS.

    Both of the last two reds were harsh, but not exactly over the top. Especially in a game that where the ref has lost control.

  33. FSegaud says:

    You mean the guy that just came back from officiating Olympic matches? Look for him next week!

  34. bcoug says:

    As long as you don’t make any silly claims that Dudar didn’t have a red coming on that tackle, I will allow it.

  35. bcoug says:

    Agree – in fact, I don’t anticipate any additional suspensions from the DC. One look at the tapes and the MLS will want to pretend this match never happened.

  36. JJ says:

    You do realize he only just turned 21 years old and this is his first full season as the starting goalkeeper, right? The organization wanted 1 more year with Mondragon to let MacMath get 1 more year of experience before becoming the starter full time. Mondragon wanted to go back to Colombia, so plan A didn’t work out. Personally I think MacMath is having as fine a year as one could expect from a 21 year old first time starter in only his 2nd season in MLS.

  37. kfly says:

    You know who else is 21? Bill Hamid.

  38. VJM says:

    HaHa!! That is Not how it happened. Watch the match again.

  39. NE REVS says:

    DC United Business Model

    Step 1: DeRo misses a penalty to drop two points.
    Step 2: Miss playoffs
    Step 3: Inexplicably win MVP award
    Step 4: ?????
    Step 5: Profit

  40. KevDC says:

    Only your post and that ref are inexplicable.

  41. skyman says:

    As a complete bystander I agree.

  42. skyman says:

    I watch mostly Euro football, but am a Yank, and have been astonished at what I’ve seen from the MLS refs, consistently (even when I watch a game, as I have live several times in Portland and Seattle).

    This just about tops the cake in buffoonery. It’s embarrassing really.

  43. loosek says:

    Wrong. The encroachment was by DCU players. If it was by Philly players the made PK would have stood and there would have been no retake. That’s the law.

  44. loosek says:

    Ben didn’t have his boys ready to play, and it’s debatable whether or not some of them will ever be ready. Hamid and McDonald for starters need to grow the hell up, fast. Geiger wasn’t great but he didn’t decide this game. The only thing he can really be criticized for is letting Lahoud continue to play. He should have seen a second yellow in the 2nd half. Other than that, the rest is just Ben Olsen and DCU making excuses for their unprofessionalism. It will be interesting to hear their whining this season as they watch the playoffs from the couch.

    Full disclosure: I’m a DCU season ticket holder for the past 8 years. Love the team. Hate where it’s going.

  45. Shane says:

    Then STFU and go back to your eurotrash

  46. Nate Dollars says:

    looks like it was encroachment by both teams, so the ref was still right to have the kick re-taken.

  47. JoeW says:

    MacDonald was interviewed after the game and what I recall reading was that there was a set piece that DCU was attempting and the two got their roles mixed up. MacDonald said that it’s all good between the two of them.

    As to the other post implying I”m biased, the referee’s report post-game said that Salihi encroached on the PK. When I watched the reply at MLS, I saw Salihi running in but he started from 5 yards back. His movement obviously catches your eye. But two Philly players who started on the edge of the area encroached first and the most (but they were starting from a standing start not sprinting towards the area before the kick was taken).

  48. JoeW says:

    Also, the highlights don’t show the Adu substitution. Adu was on the field, Hackworth decides to sub him off, play is stopped, the PA announcer makes the call and…nothing. Adu won’t come off. Geiger gestures to him, the 4th official is waving the sign…and Adu won’t come off. The PA announcer makes the call a SECOND time. Geiger then walks over to Adu and points to the sideline. Adu looks to the sideline and still doesn’t go off. Geiger I believe then pointed to the sideline. Adu then walks off slowly (no trot or jog). I’m guessing this took 45 seconds. In a game full of bizarre moments, this is one of the things that stood out…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a PA announcer make the sub announcement twice in what looked like an effort to get the player’s attention. Bizarre.

  49. JoeW says:

    Of course Geiger called the encroachment against DCU (Salihi specifically). But go to the Match highlights on MLS. They’ve got a great camera angle from above the GK (McMath). As the ball is leaving DeRo’s foot, there is exactly one Philly player encroaching (no-one from DCU). Then another player from Philly enters the arc and Salihi who had started further back and began running as DeRo approached the kick enters the area. If you look AFTER the ball is in the net, you see Salihi. If you watch as the kick is taken you see at least 1 if not 2 Philly players encroach. It was a bad call b/c while technically you had encroachment, it was by about a yard and the call on Salihi was made b/c he got a running start so you noticed him only after the kick was taken (b/c of his movement).

  50. elgringorico says:

    Hate where the team is going? Don’t be ridiculous. They’ve slipped lately but the right pieces are in place, and if they can stay healthy and make the playoffs then they’ll contend for the title. IMO it’s great to see the players show some heart and passion, get riled up a bit for a late season push.

  51. Matt C in Tampa says:

    Did you not see the two dcu players (Pontius was one) encroach in the arc before the kick was taken?

    Ref made the right call. DeRo just needs to make the dot kick.

    Can’t comment on the post-pk cards. Didn’t see what happened.

    thought the red on dudar was correct. from behind, studs up. Pontius knew it was the right call…

  52. loosek says:

    You see “heart and passion.” I see constant whining about the refs after every non-win, fighting with teammates, and an unwillingness to put out 100 percent on the field (except for Najar and Korb). This team seems more primed for a meltdown than a late-season push. I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see on Wednesday.

  53. elgringorico says:

    True, I forgot about that. I think moreso than the ref’s bad calls, the DC players were reacting to some really unprofessional time wasting by Philly. They knew DC was going to score and wasted probably 10 miuntes total between the PK scenario and the stalled substitutions.

  54. Chris says:

    Thanks fischy, as a fellow Arlingtonian, we know stupid when we see it ;-). My point is that our guys lost their heads. I was at the game just like you and am livid with the Geiger show. DCU is to blame for BB’s red (he knows better) and not finishing our chances (common theme but at least we are making progress compared to the last few seasons). We need to be more professional both on the ball and when play is stopped and let the A#$-hats from Phily and the Geigers of the league show their quality on their own.

  55. elgringorico says:

    The red was legitimate but 100% in reaction to the bad refereeing and time wasting.

  56. Enos says:

    The funniest thing about the Freddy Adu sub is the stadium announcer said his name twice, when he wouldn’t get off the field. “Now leaving the match, Freddy Adu!… Freddy Adu!”

  57. Enos says:

    Those of you saying the Red was right on Dudar are probably only looking at that one play. In the context of an appropriately refereed match, you are right. In this case, Geiger had let all sorts of brutality go on with simply warnings or no acknowledgement at all. Tackles like that were commonplace in the match and only punished at that one time and later, on a much worse call, for a 2nd yellow on a Philly player. The match was a disgrace for referees.

  58. Charles says:


    Why do guys like this come to post here ?

    BTW, “(I) am a Yank” ?

  59. Charles says:

    12,000 fans ? I just don’t get it….at all.
    What the heck is wrong with DCU soccer fans ?

    If I were looking to build a stadium at a cost of $200M+, nervous would not describe my feelings at seeing 12k for big later season game.

    $200 million cost/($30 per customer x 12k customers) =
    A helluva lot of games to breakeven.

  60. peterjh says:

    SSS’s bring in a lot of revenue from non-soccer events.

  61. elgringorico says:

    Charles, it was pouring down rain the entire day.

    Also the low attendance numbers can be partially attributed to dissatisfaction with RFK. Lots of people don’t make the trip because it’s old and they’re fed up that we don’t have a new stadium yet.

    With a new stadium, attendance would average double that, at least.

  62. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    @Robert Daniels – thanks for the correction (I’m an idiot)

    @kfly – well done, sir

  63. Eurosnob says:

    I agree with elgringorico about the RFK effect on attendance. RFK has lots of history and character, but it’s a dump and not on par with other MLS stadiums. And DCU is not planning to build $220 million stadium (such extravagant expenses are limited to Red Bulls, whose stadium has average attendance about 3K more than RFK this season). Other MLS teams spent a lot less on their ss stadiums with three lowest spenders being Columbus, Portland and Montreal (at $28.5 million, $31 million and $40 million, respectively). I think DCU expects to spend something comparable to what Toronto and Chicago spent on their stadiums ($62.5 and $98 million, respectively). If they build it in a good location, the stadium will be sold out.

  64. Jake says:

    I had never seen something that absurd before. He is classless.

  65. bcoug says:

    I don’t disagree – I would normally say that regardless of what the official does you need to keep your head as a player, but that match was so bizarre that there may have to be a “Geiger exception” where things get so out-of-hand that nobody is held responsible for the actions any longer.
    By the end of the match the DCU players didn’t even know who to be mad at any longer.

    Reminded me a bit of the Sounders match early this year where Geiger clearly red-carded the wrong player (Hurtado in this case) and refused to correct it despite his error being pointed out to him.

  66. NE REVS says:

    Yeah I know. DeRo can’ win MVP because he’d need to get traded twice in order to be eligible. That was step 0 last season.

  67. Stretch says:

    You either do not know the rules or don’t understand what you are watching. Calling encroachment is kind of weak but is correct. When the ball leaves DeRo’s foot there are 2 DC player entirly in the arch and 1 philly player with a foot in the box. The DC players enter the arch first. The rule is you can not be in the box or within 12 yards of the ball hence the arch. The call was weak but correct. The first diallowed gaol was a bad call but is not surprising as goalies get protection simaler to NFL QBs. On to the Red cards;per Jack Mac’s Red card two weeks ago pushing a player to the ground is a red card so the first red card was correct. Second Red card studs up change from behind regardless of how much of the play you get; MLS stated this woould be a straight Red as season start. They have been inconsitent but the call was correct. Third red card, second yellow on Williams. Tackle was all ball bad call. With regards to issuing yellows earlier in the match it might have made a difference if they had cut down on the physical play in the first half but they didn’t. By late in the second the offical had let to much go and could not card for hard fouls as he had let it go on for the whole second half. Way I see the offical had 2 or 3 wrong calls that were just flat out wrong. one or two other decision were correct but certainly worth arguing as they seem to be allowed to pass most times. In the end DeRo should have just finished and the point is moot.

  68. Stretch says:

    The board was broken and it took the three tries to get the information up correctly. They talk about it in the telecast. Once it was fixed he could have come off faster, it was about 20 sec or less which is a little much. Plus I think the ref cut him some slack because he gave williams a card for time wasting mid way through the first half which was a poor call but pluasible correct.

  69. bryan says:

    i think it’s funny when Revs fans attempt to talk S.

  70. Joe says:

    That would be the 4th officials fault. If you put a number up in green that doesn’t mean you are coming off but on. If the 4th official hadn’t messed up Freddy should have been carded.

  71. Joe says:

    There are two spots that encroachment can occur. If you notice outside the box there is an arc, being inside that arc is the same as being inside the box. With him being several feet inside the arc before the ball was kicked and the Union player being a step inside the box the ref ruled, per FIFA rule book, correctly. Why Salihi started sprinting before DeRo kicked the ball I don’t know but he cost his team a goal and probably the full 3 points.