June 12, 2021

D.C. United Game 28 Recap: Angry United left seeing red after loss at New York


Already without the injured Chris Rolfe and the concussed Eddie Johnson, D.C. United’s mission to earn a positive result at New York Wednesday night got even more difficult when leading scorer Fabian Espindola was sent off by referee Mark Geiger for a high kick. United held on in a scoreless match until the 90th minute, when Lloyd Sam scored to give New York a 1-0 win. United fell to 14-9-5 (47 points), but remain five points up on Sporting Kansas City for first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference. New York improved to 9-8-10 (37 points).

A match which the Red Bulls were edging for possession and some chances swung in their favor significantly in the 32nd minute when Espindola went to a play a bouncing ball near midfield, as New York midfielder Dax McCarty rushed in. Espindola’s boot, McCarty’s midsection, and the ball all met and McCarty went down holding his stomach. Geiger sent off Espindola immediately for what he deemed a “serious foul.” It did not appear as if Espindola’s studs caught McCarty, who stayed in the match and was not seen being treated for a cut.

Had Espindola been cautioned, he would have missed United’s next match anyway due to yellow card accumulation, but the ejection seriously put United on the back foot. D.C. almost survived with a point thanks to goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who made two super saves in the second half to deny Sam and Thierry Henry.

But in the 90th minute, the ball bounced to Sam on the right side of the penalty area. Substitute midfielder Lewis Neal was too far up field to support left back Taylor Kemp, who had been drawn toward the center of the area given the numbers the Red Bulls were throwing forward. Neal couldn’t track back in time to help Kemp, and Sam beat Hamid for the game’s only goal, hsi third goal of the season.

Head coach Ben Olsen was clearly angry at the call and made sure the officials and a national television audience knew it. But now without Rolfe, Espindola (unless the card is successfully appealed) and possibly Johnson, who was not in the 18 tonight, Olsen will have to devise a lineup that can threaten offensively in United’s next league match at Chicago on September 20.

United visit Waterhouse FC in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday. United beat Waterhouse, 1-0, on August 20 in its first group match of the competition.

THE GOOD: Chris Pontius played his first minutes of the season Wednesday, entering as a substitute in the 82nd minute. He had missed the entire season to this point due to injury. He could help at forward if need be given United’s current and projected absences at Chicago.

THE BAD: Down a man late on the road, every player has to be focused and doing everything to track attackers and get the ball cleared. United lost Sam for just a second late on and it cost them what could prove to be a valuable point.

THE UGLY: Geiger was about 8 yards behind McCarty on the play in which he sent off Espindola. From that angle, it would take tremendous vision to see if Espindola’s boot studs made contact with McCarty, or if there was any contact at all. Geiger saw the raised boot and reacted immediately, in a play and decision that looked very similar to a red card incurred by Manchester United midfielder Nani in a Champions League match vs. Real Madrid, though Wednesday’s incident likely featured less contact. Regardless, United eventually paid the price.

NOTES: An announced crowd of 14,953 was on hand at Red Bull Arena. … According to MLS stats, New York had nearly 70 percent of the possession in the match. … Henry had seven shot attempts, three of which were on goal. He earned an assist on the Sam goal. … According to the official MLS boxscore, New York defender Armando (who didn’t appear in the match) was cautioned by Geiger with a reason of: “No impact on timing.” … In other MLS action Wednesday, Montreal held the L.A. Galaxy to a 2-2 draw.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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