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Match report: DC United 1-1 Union

Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer

Philadelphia Union drew 1-1 with DC United on Sunday after a series of scuffles, red cards, and controversial referee calls reversed a game that looked like a sure Union loss.

Referee Mark Geiger waved off two apparent United goals in the second half and sent off three players in the last ten minutes.

On the first disallowed goal, Zac MacMath stopped and spilled a shot by Dwayne De Rosario in the 64th minute. Hamdi Salihi came in for the rebound and fell over a diving MacMath, resulting in a foul call just before Nick DeLeon netted the rebound.

On the second, Geiger correctly called Salihi for encroachment into the area before De Rosario fired his penalty kick past MacMath. That sparked a scrap between the teams that resulted in a red card for Branko Boskovic and yellows for Gabriel Farfan and Roger Torres. After order was restored, De Rosario skied his second attempt over the crossbar.

The final 10 minutes marred what had been an ordinary game before a crowd of just 12,312 beneath gray skies, but it certainly didn’t hurt an increasingly heated rivalry.

“It’s DC vs. Philly,” said Union right back Sheanon Williams, who was sent off in stoppage time. “They don’t like us, and we don’t like them.”

United coach Ben Olsen was furious after the match.

“The Geiger show,” Olsen said when asked about the officiating. “He wants to make the big call to change games.”

Olsen called the 64th minute foul on Salihi an “imaginary foul” and said Geiger lost control of the game.

On the other hand, he said the tension between the teams only improves the rivalry. “I think it heats it up,” Olsen said. “I like this stuff.”

Hackworth declined to comment on the officiating, but he said he was happy to come away with a result away from home.

“I think a point on the road in this league is really important,” Hackworth said.

It was a road game that Hackworth wasn’t taking any chances with, as he restored the back six who have been in the starting lineup much of his tenure. Michael Lahoud and Brian Carroll took holding midfield roles in a formation that looked more 4-2-3-1 than 4-3-3, while Gabriel Farfan, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo and Sheanon Williams manned the back line. Newly acquired Danny Cruz started on one flank opposite Freddy Adu, with Jack McInerney and Michael Farfan rounding out the Union lineup. Hackworth held Gabriel Gomez out of the 18 because Gomez didn’t return from overseas duty until Saturday night.

The Union opened up the scoring in eighth minute. Adu lofted a free kick into the box that Okugo kept alive with a header that found Michael Farfan. Farfan then one-timed a shot awry, but the ball deflected off United’s Perry Kitchen across the face of net to Carroll, who buried the game’s first goal.

The rest of the first half was evenly matched, with the teams alternating in the ascendancy. United outshot the Union 10 to 8 in the first half, but goalkeepers Zac MacMath and Bill Hamid each had four saves.

A notable moment was when Geiger cautioned Williams in the 37th minute for taking too long on a throw-in. The Union would pay later for that when Williams drew a second yellow card in stoppage time and was ejected. (Raymon Gaddis will likely replace the now suspended Williams on Friday against Real Salt Lake, Hackworth said after the game.)

At the half’s close, United nearly equalized, but Adu stepped up to save a goal. United’s Lionard Pajoy, who Philadelphia traded to DC last week for Cruz, collected a corner kick and lofted a header on target over MacMath, only to see Adu step out of the net to head out a goal line clearance. Adu then deflected the rebound shot, and the half closed seconds later with the Union up 1-0.

After halftime, United dominated, outshooting the Union 10 to 2 in the second half, controlling 64 percent of the possession, and finding the back of the net three times. Unfortunately, only one counted.

That lone United goal came in the 71st minute off a perfectly placed Boskovic free kick. The ball split Okugo and MacMath, with neither calling off the other, and Okugo deflected it into net for an own goal. “We got caught in No Man’s Land,” Okugo said after the game.

United controlled the match from there on, culminating with an 85th minute penalty against Torres, who had come in six minutes earlier for McInerney.

Then came the De Rosario penalty kicks and the chaos that would ensue. Stoppage time saw Geiger give a straight red card to United’s Emiliano Dudar after he tackled Antoine Hoppenot from behind, followed by Williams getting a second yellow four minutes later for a sliding tackle on a breakaway.

No word yet on whether Geiger will officiate the next match of this rivalry.


Philadelphia Union

Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Michael Farfan, Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot ’58), Jack McInerney (Roger Torres ’80), Freddy Adu (Keon Daniel ’69)

Unused subs: Chase Harrison, Chris Albright, Raymon Gaddis, Chandler Hoffman

DC United

Bill Hamid, Dejan Jakovic (Hamdi Salihi ’61), Brandon McDonald, Emiliano Dudar, Chris Korb, Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, Lionard Pajoy (Branko Boskovic ’58), Dwayne De Rosario (Marcelo Saragosa ’89), Chris Pontius

Unused subs: Joe Willis, Mike Chabala, Ethan White, Long Tan

Scoring summary

8 — PHI: Carroll

71 — DC: Okugo (OG)

Misconduct summary

PHI: ’37, Williams (yellow, time wasting)

PHI: ’44, Lahoud (yellow, foul)

PHI: ’70, McInerney (yellow, foul)

PHI: ’89, G. Farfan (yellow, argument)

DC: ’89, Boskovic (red, argument)

PHI: ’89, Torres (yellow, argument)

DC: ’91, Dudar (red, foul)

PHI: ’95, Williams (yellow/red, foul)

DC: ’96, Hamid (yellow, argument)


  1. Marc Geiger says:

    Talk more about meeeeeeeeeeee!

  2. Someone please tell me Williams is appealing that red. Time wasting in the 36th minute, really? The 36th minute? A tackle where he clearly got the ball first, really? Geiger is awful, just awful

    • Honestly, I hope they don’t tack and extra game onto his suspension. I can see the league saying he didn’t leave the field in a timely fashion. Both his cards were crap. DC did the same thing he got carded for on the throw in at least twice.

    • Time wasting is a referee’s judgement call but I think the second yellow can be appealed (at least that’s how I interpret the rule). My problem is with the fact that 5 minutes later one of the DC players did the same thing as Williams and didn’t get a card.

    • They can’t appeal. You can only appeal a straight red.

    • Chris Rudderow says:

      Unless it is a clear case of misidentifying the offending player, there is almost zero chance of winning an appeal… It all falls to the referee’s discretion.

  3. i can’t tell whether to be relieved or furious… 13 points back is a long way to go.

  4. The bad news: we are more or less out of the playoff hunt.
    The good news: we may just have taken DC down with us.

  5. It’s a shame they couldn’t protect the lead, cause at times they looked pretty good out there. That was an OK starting XI.

  6. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    One thing Martino got right was how the Union were on their back foot ever after they switched to a more defensive 4-4-2. I understand Hackworth really, really wanting us to protect that lead but it hurt us.
    And, after a few shaky games let me be the first to praise MacMath for coming out and playing well. He seemed to be much more selective in coming out for crosses which helped. HE is still young so to be able to have a rebound game like this is a good sign.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      They always play a 4-4-2 defensively. They always have under Hack. Marfan up high with jack, wingers dropped. That is nothing new. Just another in a myriad of errors from Martino. They shouldn’t do it. But they always have, since he’s taken over.

      • Agree; especially since they should go for broke in order to try to make the playoffs. Last month one of your writers wrote that we needed from that point onwards something like 1.8 points per game to make the play-offs; we have not even been close. So what is the point of trying to get just 1 point?

      • I respectfully disagree but only because I think the playoffs are a completely lost cause. Playing for a draw teaches the team how to play for a draw. I think they need to learn how to play for a draw. I think they need to learn how to protect a 1 goal lead. I think they need to learn how to sit back and most of all I think it is painfully obvious from Sunday’s match that they need to learn how to attack on the counter.

    • MacMath’s distribution was unbelievably bad.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:


      • in my opinion distribution has always been the worst part of his game. Good news is this can be taught and he will improve with age. The game will slow down and he will start to see the right places to pass or place the ball. I do however think he is finally returning to the more confident form he had pre-concussion.

      • You may be correct but wow that was the worst he’s done. Punting or drop-kicking the ball out of bounds is a mental mistake, just as much mental as any aspect of goalkeeping. “Don’t punt the ball out of bounds” should have been learned at approximately age 9.

      • The Black Hand says:

        He is not a professional goalkeeper, at this point. MacMaths play on the ball, that ended up being cleared by Adu, was horrendous. Would have been, yet, another poor goal given up by young Zac. Luckily, we had Adu. That seems strange too say.

      • There’s no doubt about it. We need a veteran keeper. I want us to keep Zac, but we need a Perkins-type keeper to mind the nets for another year or two so that Zac can continue to grow.

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        MacMath has had his troubles, and I know he needs more than a half-decent game like he had yesterday to get back on track, but this whole jumping off the bridge “1 – 2 years in the reserves/sitting on the bench” rhetoric is crazy talk.
        The most egregious flaw is that it ignores the counter-point to that whole argument; which, it just so happens, ANOTHER example of it was manning the opposite goal yesterday.

      • The Black Hand says:

        It is tough to overlook the fundamental mistakes consistent with young Zac’s game, many of which have cost the club valuable points. He might become a decent goalkeeper, but right now he is a bit of a liability. Can’t help but question why our goalkeeping issues were not addressed much earlier in the season. It is a glaring weakness, that has been evident since match 3.

      • Just as many of those mistakes were caused by our defense as well, lets be honest zach hasn’t been perfect, but neither has our D. the whole team is learning and making mistakes, to put it at the feet of one player is absurd.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I can’t agree with you more. Zac is not the only player out there displaying a deficient skill set. That, however, does not take away from the fact that; at least a third of the goals scored against MacMath were the direct result of MacMath’s individual error, be it poor positioning or awful touches. Our back line is horribly undersized, without Soumare at center, leaving them very vulnerable through the air. To their credit, they hold quite strong considering the amount of time they are pressed to defend…which is most of the match, due to constant turnovers by our midfield. We give the opposition far too many chances to expose, our young, goalkeeper’s weaknesses. We gave DC 12 corners…12. That is daunting to the finest of keepers, let alone young Zac, who has confidence issues. If he folds up, we have no fallback option. An experienced goalkeeper should have been brought in, even if just to serve as a backup to MacMath.

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        Yes, you’re not wrong, but again DC fans and Chicago fans were saying the same thing earlier in the season – and in fact USA fans as a whole were.
        This is exactly what we signed up for when we decided to start MacMath. Whether or not that was the smartest choice is arguable, but the decision has been made. And continuously calling for us to walk that choice back ignores the success stories we can see in the MLS – this season even.
        I think this team has gone back to the youth project it was going to be before Nowak dismantled that in Season 2. Based on that, there are growing pains we will need to sit through and MacMath is one of them.

      • Marcus Hanheman is a free agent, and we wouldn’t have to keep him very long, he’s 40. Any takers?

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        Only if he is willing to get paid peanuts and be nothing more than a glorified GK coach for MAcMath.

  7. DarthLos117 says:

    More like: the Union were gifted 1-1 tie with DC…thanks Geiger! Loved that DeRo missed that PK! No funky chicken this time! No talk of Torres’ glorious return to action yet?! Almost cost us the game there big guy. Great sub!

    • The Black Hand says:

      Agreed. It’s time to remove the rose colored glasses and take an honest look at the club. Giant holes on and off the pitch. I like Hackworth, but am concerned that he is more of a developmental coach and less a professional manager. While it is a luxury to have youth and “potential” within the club; it is also the responsibility of the front office, and manager, to put a professional club on the pitch. We really have not seen one of those, this year.

      • Philly Cheese says:

        Unfortunately Hackworth is stuck with personnel decisions made by Nowak with FO guidance including Adu, with his outrageous salary, Perlaza, Gomez, Martinez, Lopez, Torres, Pajoy (oh….that’s right, he’s gone) all may not fit with direction and style of play Hack is building.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agreed. He didn’t exactly inherit a well-oiled machine. I hope that he is up to the task of de-muddling that mess.

  8. Peter Taylor says:

    That’s why you call it the Geiger Counter. Though the pk retake was the right call. Steve Davis had a good piece on it over at Pro Soccer Talk. And I can’t believe Williams is suspended. How can you call time waisting in the 37th minute?

    • I agree, time wasting in the 37th min on a throw in?!? ridiculous. and the second card was a good tackle if you watch it, but in full time I can understand the card. But the second one would not have been an issue if the first hadn’t have been given. I would have said he had jet lag or something, but as you stated it’s why it’s called the Geiger Counter for.

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