D.C. United earn point as blown call forces Sporting KC to settle for draw

Perry Kitchen, Paulo, Nagamaura


WASHINGTON- It took an outstanding goalkeeping performance, a goal from an unexpected contributor and one massive stroke of luck, but D.C. United finally snapped their seven-match losing streak Sunday evening, grinding out a 1-1 draw against Sporting KC at RFK Stadium.

The result gives the black and red their first point in more than two months.

In a season where the ball has more often than not bounced in favor of their opponents, D.C. United found themselves on the other end of a lucky break Sunday evening, benefitting from an atrocious offside call.

In the 30th minute, with Sporting firmly in control of the match, Matt Besler and Jacob Peterson combined with Sporting KC defender Ike Opara, who cooly tapped it in from inside United’s six yard box. The goal was disallowed, with Assistant Referee Matthew Nelson indicating that Opara had been in an offside position – though replays clearly showed that he was most certainly onside, by a good two to three yards.

“It’s a big mistake. I mean, it’s a major mistake,” a bemused Peter Vermes said after the match. The Sporting KC head coach continued:  “There’s actually three guys that keep him onside, right? He’s not offside. I don’t know what [the ref] is thinking there. I just don’t know. It’s a big mistake, but what are you going to do?”

Even Nelson himself was quick to acknowledge his error, telling media members that he “misjudged the play.”

The fortunate break was part of a first half that saw Sporting enjoy the lion’s share of possession, though both teams managed to carve out their share of scoring opportunities. United midfielder Nick DeLeon challenged SKC keeper Jimmy Nielsen from 30 yards out in the 10th minute; Sporting nearly pulled ahead in the 39th, as Graham Zusi pounced on a poor pass from United defender Dejan Jakovic, forcing a kick save from his USMNT teammate Bill Hamid. United captain Dwayne De Rosario headed a Chris Korb cross just wide seconds from the halftime whistle.

Hamid, back in goal after a brief spell on the bench, seemed bolstered by the time off – and a somewhat unexpected national team call-up. If that was indeed true, Hamid was keeping his cards close to his chest after the match. “Our place in the standings right now – that’s where my confidence is at. As a team, we need to move up the ladder.”

Sporting KC would finally pull ahead on a 60th minute corner kick, benefitting from a favorable bounce of their own. Zusi’s corner found Opara in the middle of the box – his header deflected off of United defender Ethan White and found the back of the net for an own goal. It was an unfortunate turn of events for White, who’s looked solid at center back since replacing Brandon McDonald last weekend.

United would strike back minutes later, as Canadian international Kyle Porter would find an equalizer for United in the 65th minute, volleying in a Chris Pontius cross that found him at the outside edge of the six yard box. The finish was Porter’s first MLS goal, an apt response to United head coach Ben Olsen’s pre-game request that he “step his game up.”

“We asked Kyle to step it up this week and start producing,” Olsen told SBI after the match. “Whether it’s assists or goals – don’t be OK with just being a starter now and getting minutes. Push yourself. Get your name out there now.”

Both teams traded blows all the way up to the matches final whistle, with Hamid and Sporting keeper Jimmy Nielsen both coming up huge for their respective sides. A 77th minute scrum in the box nearly saw Lawrence Olum claim the winner for Sporting; Porter did his best to net his second of the evening and put the game away for United just a minute later, forcing a kick save from Nielsen in the 78th.

The result doesn’t even come close to moving United out of the Eastern Conference basement, but a decent performance against a very strong KC side should certainly help their spirits heading in a difficult encounter with Portland next Saturday. Perhaps Olsen himself summed it up best after the match:

“Hey. It beats losing.”

Here are the match highlights:

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42 Responses to D.C. United earn point as blown call forces Sporting KC to settle for draw

  1. Mike E. says:

    I say this with no hyperbole–

    Worst blown offside call I’ve ever seen in my life. Can’t speak for what I haven’t seen, but that’s probably the worst blown call in MLS history and high on the list of top flight football in general.

    He had to be 5 yards onside easily.

    • Travis says:

      It was a bad call but unless you haven’t watched a ton of football I don’t think it’d be the worst you’ve seen. I know that I have seen worse before many times, he was probably 2-3 yards onside but it is hard for the ARs when the D is stepping at the same moment he is attacking. Nonetheless a bad call.

      • Pablo Maurer says:

        I’d venture to say that it was the worst OFFSIDE call I’ve ever seen. In MLS, at least.

      • mouf says:

        but they werent stepping, everyone was basically static at the time the ball was hit

      • KCTC says:

        It was an atrocious call. The league need to issue an apology as well as the linesman. To say he misjudged the call is an understatement of epic proportions. Another example of why mls needs to do more to improve its officiating standards.

        • Travis says:

          I said it was bad but come on just a month ago in the CL there was the blown offside call in Malaga vs Dortmund match where there were literally 3 people off, bad calls happen. I know most people saw that. It was bad and the officiating clearly needs to improve but the hyperbole is a bit off the chart right now.

          • mouf says:

            hilarious to compare the two, in that game the player was like a half step off, an understandable mistake

            • Travis says:

              half step? on the initial ball three were well off, look it up. all im trying to say is that calling this missed call the worst offside call ever is a huge overreaction. ill say it again, it was a bad call but if youve watched football for any measure of time its almost a guarantee youve seen worse

              • mouf says:

                I did, they had 2 that game that they were off on, both a half step.

                Tony Meola called it the worst offiside call he has seen. I doubt you have watched more “football” than he has, or have played in a World Cup. To dismiss what appears to be one of the worse offisde calls of all time (20 min youtube search did not disprove) as someone being noob, is disingenuous.

              • fischy says:

                You can’t compare missed offside with a wrong offside call. However, ot talk about DC’s defense stepping up? That accounts for misjudging iwth Jakovic, but Porter was lying on the ground a few yards closer to goal. It was pretty bad –not the first time that I’ve seen an AR blow a call because he just flat out didn’t see a defender because the defender was so much closer to the goal line that he wasn’t even in the AR’s view — but that doesn’t make it atrocious.

      • Shawn G says:


        No, I’ve watched football for 30+ years. That was THE worst offside call ‘made’ I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen the flag left DOWN more egregiously. But never raised. When you consider he was at least 4 yards on, with 3 people keeping him on, and the flag goes up?

        It wasn’t ‘bang-bang.’ There was plenty of time to get it right, and the linesman screwed up. In singularly horrific fashion. It was the kind of ‘error’ the referees in “Victory” would have made on behalf of Germany.

    • Jake says:

      The one called against Porter vs. Columbus was bad too, but due to interpretation. On this one, it was just an atrocious call all around. The guy on the ground easily keeps him onside. I could see blowing it with one of the two defenders in the 6-yard box that kept him on since they were stepping up, but geez… missing all three. Does anyone know if the linesman was just in a really bad position, or just missed it cause of the speed of the play?!

      • Shawn G says:

        Replay showed he was in the right position. He just couldn’t accept that Ike was that open inside the 6 and raised the flag.

  2. ThaDeuce says:

    Sure does! Let’s go D.C!

    I still don’t want to see a coaching change, but I wouldn’t mind new players. Am I in the minority?

    What is this ownership about?

    • Josh D says:

      We bring in new players. They are just terrible choices. I feel like I could recruit better by playing FIFA.

      Benny loves players who work hard. He doesn’t value players who are more technical, but don’t put in a big effort. That’s why our DPs have failed in recent times.

      Robbie Keane would be the ideal DP to Olsen. Guys like Henry wouldn’t.

      • Cavan says:

        United actually has a pretty good track record with drafts and trades in recent years. It’s the international signgings that have been messy, with the exception of Boskovic. He was a classy player. But this year, Sanchez is the glaring bust. That team is an attacking center mid, a forward, and a healthy, fit Pontius and DeLeon away from being a competitive team. There’s talent there. It’s just that at the pro level, one hole makes your team a bottom-dweller.

      • ThaDeuce says:

        But why do we get the boskovics, Salihis, and unproven Rafaels, instead of the Cahills, keanes, and Thierry Henrys? Yes, i think Thierry would do fine at d.c.

        This problem was before Olsen took over, but hasn’t been fixed yet.

        The difference is in quality, hell about a Donovan? I guess they don’t want to come here or we just can’t get them.

        He valued Najar greatly, but couldn’t keep him. We are all missing Najar.

        Just a caveat, I came on board to mls fandom when d.c. Hired Olsen as coach and was committed when Davies signed. When Olsen goes, I may go. I’m not sure. I can’t predict my feelings and honestly it has been fun watching mls, but, when Deuce left Fulham I never watched another match, and they were second only to the nats. That didn’t translate to Tottenham though, I just look for deuce highlights.

        That’s why I hope Olsen stays. If he goes, I may follow Egypt second, haha.

  3. Neruda says:

    When is this sport going to use technology for the good it can provide: to get calls correct. I don’t understand all the money spent by teams and fans which fund it all only to have a system of enforcing the rules of the game with such a high degree of error. I know MLS won’t go rogue on FIFA and introduce instant replay but I sure wish they would.

    • Travis says:

      Even if they were to get instant replay it wouldn’t be used for offside. How do you determine when to use it? Do you let the play go if there is any chance it might be off then go back and review every time? One of the many reasons I love football is the lack of stoppages, I don’t have any problem for if a ball crosses the goal line or not but beyond that I just don’t love it.

      • Seriously says:

        It might not be used on every offside call, but in one where a goal is disallowed it might be.

        • Northzax says:

          So what if they review it and find a foul somewhere else? A goal review could easily take three-minutes, review every goal and you’re looking at a lot of FergieTime.

          • Shawn G says:

            Hockey does video review inside a minute, and that’s with a central replay official for ALL games. It’s the one thing the NHL does right.

            Do it just like there’s. Scoring plays only, and only a set criteria for review: ball crossing line. Ball staying in play. Active players on-side when a goal is scored, and whether a foul occurred inside or outside the box when a PK is awarded.

            You don’t go back and review 10mins of footage. You look at the line, look at the ball, bang, it’s done. It’s pro sports, everything should be done to get the call right on scoring plays.

            • Yevgeniy says:

              Or you can have a system where each team only has 2 challenges per game and they can use them as they wish – for a throw in or for a blown offside call. Will take maybe 3-5 minutes more TOTAL on average, which is not a big deal

            • Northzax says:

              Again, hockey is another beast. There is a goal judge who’s sole job is to light the lamp and review the footage. In soccer, this would have to be done by the referee (he/she is solely responsible for all calls) that person would have to run to the sideline and review the footage, that’s going to take at least two minutes, unless they flat out sprint (if players don’t sprint off, why should the ref? Will there be reviews of how fast they run?) then there’d be a non-organic celebration. Yawn. Then there’d be temptation to start reviewing everything.

              Plus, if you’re in scoring position, why would you stop at the whistle? Say you’re on a breakaway and the whistle blows, why stop? Keep going and it might be overturned. If you’re a defender you’re not going to stop, can’t take that chance, might as well slide tackle the guy, might score otherwise.

              I’m ok with goal line technology, I think there should be led lights that light up goal posts when the ball crosses. That would be fun and harmless. But soccer is an organic, free flowing game. The whole point is that it doesn’t stop and start, start and stop. Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes, referees and linesmen make mistakes. It’s not perfect, it will never be perfect. That’s why it’s beautiful.

              One more thing on how the game is a game of judgements. Do the rules specify that certain behavior is allowed inside the box but not outside? There is a foul on every free kick into the box, usually several, that at midfield would get you a caution, but inside the box is shrugged off as part of the game. Shouldn’t a professional sport, as you say, enforce the same rules everywhere?

              • Brett says:

                Or you just have a dedicated 5th official to review the play in real time. The scenarios wouldn’t have to be drawn out. Either there’s a goal that is counted and later shown to be offside or a ball goes in the net during normal flow of play, is then called off, and then later reviewed and shown to have been on. Both of these can happen without any longer delay to play than a typical injury.

              • Shawn G says:

                That is the same nonsense argument baseball used for not using instant replay.

                EVERY sport is a game of judgments. A goal is an obvious stoppage of play in any event. Even if it’s then disallowed. So taking 30secs to a min to get it right on the 1 in 10 cases it’s in doubt isn’t going to ‘slow’ play any more than the typical gut-shot acting job does at the end of the match.

  4. Eric says:

    Watching the game in real time, I was stunned that the goal got called back. I have no idea what the AR thought he saw, because not only did he “see” it (whatever “it” was supposed to be), but he considered it decisive–after all, level is onside. It’s like baseball–tie goes to the runner/attacker.

    But here…I have no clue what he might have seen. I mean, props to the AR for admitting his error, but he didn’t just “misjudge” that play. The part-time linesmen for the U12 league I coach in could have gotten that call right. It was blown that badly, and contrary to MLS’s assertions to the contrary, should serve as a wakeup call to the league to take measures to improve the quality of its officiating.

    • Shawn G says:

      +1 I hope that linesman is a long time before he works another MLS game.

      • Frank says:

        I hope he is given another chance. We all make mistakes and cannot afford to ban Refs and ARs for a long time every time they make one. I’d argue that we don’t have the depth for that at this time.

        • mouf says:

          USSF will fine tune his ineptness, someday he will advance in his career so he can blow calls as an international center.

  5. Brett says:

    Definitely the worst I’ve seen since our match against Slovenia in the last world cup where Edu’s goal was disallowed because Bradley was fouled in the box.

    • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

      The best part of that episode, was when someone altered that referee’s wikipedia page to say that he, “is known to hate the U.S.A. with passion of the red hot sun”.


  6. Shane says:

    Bad call definitely, but there are bad calls every week. Does it really matter how bad it is when you get a perfectly good goal taken away from you? I dont really get putting this call in the article’s headline, most games have a call that could’ve affected the score. And if it is so bad, how bad is it that Hamid doesnt even try to stop it but instead stands straight up with his hand in the air. How bad is Deleon’s hair, and how bad is Harke’s announcing.

  7. loosek says:

    I was at the game, and it was a bad call, yes. BUT…That should have been KFC’s third goal of the game, so they did their jobs about as well as the AR.

    • mouf says:

      kicking themselves directly in their own face would have been apples to apples. They put their jerseys on the correct why, which means they outdid the linesman on the day

  8. DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

    Absolutely terrible call. awful for KC, but it does start to make up for the massive assortment of wrongly disallowed goals, and uncalled penalties DC has suffered this season (alluded to by Ives). I am not saying that DC’s plight is the refs fault, btw. It is a combination of DeRo hitting the wall, injuries, losing Najar and all our forwards except Pajoy, some unexpected slips in form, bad luck, AND bad calls by the refs. Maybe this draw will give us some inspiration now that we have 4 almost healthy starting midfielders again. Even though 3 of them are wingers.

    One area the team needs to address is the way Zusi was just blowing around Woolard at will. Woolard doesn’t have the wheels to deal with fast wingers. Riley isn’t any better, but it’s more about decisions with him, Maybe it’s time to try Kemp out there? he did OK on the wing in this match, and hopefully Pontius can give us the full 90 next week.

    I think Olsen is starting to get a handle on things now (crosses fingers)

    • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention that there was another player that was offside, but it didn’t seem like he affected the play, and the AR didn’t mention it soo….

      Maybe he got the two players confused, and thought that the offsided one scored? That’s the only thing I can think of.

      • Josh says:

        The only guy offside was laying on the ground out of bounds after he just played the ball in….

      • Eric says:

        That player (Matt Besler) had crossed the ball in and was no longer a part of the play. Being in an offside position is not enough for the call to be made, you have to be presently affecting the play, and Besler no longer was. That’s a non-call every single time.

        • Brett says:

          “Affecting the play” is that subjective gray area that allows bad calls to happen more often. Even if he’s out of bounds, a player on the opposing team has to be aware of him in the case that he recovers and runs back onto the pitch to join the play.