Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By PABLO MAURER
As Ben Olsen entered his post-game press conference, he looked like a man possessed. It was a familiar storyline: D.C. United had lost another game, and – in the opinion of some – been undone by some questionable officiating. As he took usual seat in the media room, it was clear it would only be a matter of seconds before he spoke his mind.
“It’s a joke,” Olsen said of the officiating, his voice often raising to a yell. “We get the same clown show every weekend. They all even out? – [expletive] – they don’t even out. Not this year they haven’t. Nobody wants to hear the coach in last place complain about the refs, but i have a group of men in there that have fought their tails off today, and they’re gutted. I pushed guys to the limit and they gave it to me today. They gave me everything they had.”
Olsen’s primary point of contention was a second-half penalty call that gave the Vancouver Whitecaps the only goal they’d need in their 1-0 victory at RFK Stadium. Just two minutes into the second stanza, Kenny Miller found Matt Watson streaking down the left flank.
Watson took a touch and headed towards the box, where he was met by an onrushing Bill Hamid. Though Hamid appeared to make contact with the ball before making contact with the Caps midfielder, referee Matthew Foerster immediately pointed to the spot for a PK. Camillo Sanvezzo converted the ensuing penalty to put Vancouver up early in the second half.
Vancouver coach Martin Rennie had a much simpler view of the call: “I think it was a stonewall penalty. I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that that was a penalty kick.”
Olsen also felt wronged by what he considered a missed handball in second half stoppage time. “And then he doesn’t make the handball call in the 93rd minute,” he ranted. “They’re easy calls. I’m not asking him to be a “super referee.” Make the right call. If Bill Hamid touches the ball and his followthrough trips the guy, It’s not a PK. If the ball hits the guys hand in the area, it’s a PK.”
D.C. had entered their encounter with Vancouver brimming with optimism. After a miserable start to their 2013 campaign, United had found a bright spot in the U.S. Open Cup and, more recently, in several solid league performances.
And they were actually dominant in first half play, out-possessing the Whitecaps and dictating the terms of the encounter from the opening whistle. Just one minute in, Dwayne De Rosario fired the first of United’s twelve first half shots towards goal, redirecting a corner kick with a side-volley that narrowly missed its target. Some six minutes later De Rosario combined with fellow Canadian international Kyle Porter on another quality chance, but his strike from 12 yards out was deflected off-target.
United’s best chance to pull ahead in the opening 45 would come 17 minutes in. Center back Ethan White played a picture-perfect through ball some 40 yards to fellow defender Chris Korb. Korb turned and played an awkward cross to Chris Pontius 10 yards from goal, but Pontius appeared to trip himself up while attempting the shot. The UCSB grad would get another chance seven minutes later, coming inches short of connecting with a De Rosario cross at the top of the six.
The second half played out in Vancouver’s favor. After the aforementioned penalty kick, the ‘Caps would continue to press for a second, and would nearly find one 65 minutes in. But Bill Hamid remained up to the task of keeping his side in the game, blocking Jordan Harvey’s long range attempt and parrying away Russel Tievert’s follow-up attempt.
D.C. would have a series of late chances, but Carlos Ruiz, Casey Townsend and Bill Hamid – yes, Bill Hamid – would all come up short in the game’s final minutes, leaving United to ponder what could have been and wonder what exactly they have to do to find the back of the net.
At the end of the evening, though, many of the United faithful will likely end up pinning the loss on Matthew Foerster, not the Black and Red. Olsen’s job security has been and will likely continue to be a frequent talking point, something that wasn’t lost on the third-year coach as he came to the end of his post-game rant. When asked if he got any explanation out of the officials, Olsen scoffed.
“They don’t have to explain,” Olsen boomed to the media in attendance. “I do. To my owners. Why we lost another game.”
So what did you think of Olsen’s post-game blow-up? Was it justified? Did the officials cost United the game?
Share your thoughts below.