Union settles for a 1-1 draw in a wild finish

A penalty-kick goal was disallowed and D.C. missed the retry. There were 3 ejections.

Posted: August 21, 2012

WASHINGTON - The Union lost a lead.

D.C. United lost their collective head.

Yet nobody lost an entertaining Major League Soccer game with a wild finish that did little to help the Union's playoff chances.

After scoring first, in the opening half, the Union were outplayed in the second half and held on for a 1-1 draw with United on Sunday before 12,312 at spacious RFK Stadium.

The Union are now 7-12-3 and have 24 points. United are 11-8-4 for 37 points. United hold the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Union have 12 games remaining and own a game in hand on United.

"I am not disappointed. Would I love three points? Absolutely," Union interim team manager John Hackworth said. "The fact is, we didn't play great in the second half, and that was our fault."

Some would suggest the Union received a major boost from referee Mark Geiger. One person making that suggestion was United coach Ben Olsen, whose team had two goals in the second half nullified.

"It was the Geiger show, and he wants to make the big call to change games," Olsen said.

The first nullified goal came in the 65th minute with the Union holding a 1-0 lead.

The play began when Union keeper Zac MacMath stopped MLS all-star Dwayne De Rosario's shot from an angle near the six-yard line. MacMath then attempted to fall on the loose ball, but United's Hamdi Salihi kicked it back to Nick DeLeon, who put it in the net.

It was ruled that MacMath had possession, and the goal was waved off.

"It was an imaginary foul," Olsen said.

MacMath had a different take.

"He was going for the ball, and I had a hand on it, and when they called it, I thought it was the right call," MacMath said.

United kept charging and scored the equalizer on an own-goal in the 71st minute. Midfielder Branko Boskovic sent a long free kick that went off Union defender Amobi Okugo into the net.

In the 86th minute, United earned a penalty kick when Roger Torres tripped Chris Pontius inside the box. De Rosario connected on the penalty kick to the right of a diving MacMath.

Not so fast.

United were called for encroachment. Olsen said that Salihi was called for moving in the circle outside the 18 too early. So De Rosario had to take the kick again and sent it over the goal.

Then the fireworks started.

Boskovic was given a red card in the 89th minute for going after Torres and attempting to choke him. (Torres received a yellow.)

Then in the first minute of stoppage time, United's Emiliano Dudar was assessed a red card for a hard foul on Antoine Hoppenot.

So the Union had a two-man advantage, but not for long.

Union defender Sheanon Williams earned his second yellow, and thus a red, for a foul in the 95th minute on Pontius. Both Hackworth and Williams disagreed with the call, but now Williams is out for Friday's home game against Real Salt Lake.

The teams got in shoving matches, but nothing further developed.

The Union's goal was set up by two players who began their MLS careers with United, Freddy Adu and Brian Carroll. Adu sent a long free kick on goal that Okugo headed. The ball then bounced off United midfielder Perry Kitchen and right to Carroll, who tapped it in for his first goal of the season and sixth in 276 MLS games.

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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