Dustup at end of Union-United draw

Union's Sheanon Williams (25) is involved in scuffle with D.C. United players in the second half of draw in Washington.
Union's Sheanon Williams (25) is involved in scuffle with D.C. United players in the second half of draw in Washington. (PATRICK McDERMOTT / GETTY IMAGES)
Posted: August 21, 2012

WASHINGTON - To call the last 5 minutes of what transpired at RFK Stadium on Sunday a travesty is putting the events that followed a 1-1 draw for the Union against D.C. United way too lightly.

Three red-card ejections, two fights, bodies being thrown all over the choppy pitch and what can only be described as an embarrassment by both clubs, as official Mark Geiger lost control of a match that for the previous 85 minutes was a riveting end-to-end contest.

"It was a pretty eventful game," United coach Ben Olsen joked. "The fans certainly got their money's worth."

Union interim boss John Hackworth did not share Olsen's enthusiasm.

"My opinion is that when two teams play each other it should be about soccer," said Hackworth. "It should be about good soccer in all ways and I don't think that was the last 5 minutes. Maybe that's great for TV, maybe it gets people all excited, but that wasn't what the game was supposed to be about."

OK, so now that you've heard the coaches' sentiments, here's what happened.

It started in the 85th minute when United captain and MLS All-Star Dwayne DeRosario dished a ball back to fellow All-Star Chris Pontius. Pontius danced his way into the Union's 18-yard box but was tripped up by second-half substitute Roger Torres. Geiger called a penalty kick in the box. DeRosario scored, to put United up, 2-1, but the goal was nullified due to encroachment by United's Hamdi Salihi, and the shot was retaken.

In MLS circles, the complaint with Geiger has always been that he tends to "involve" himself too much into matches. This time, it worked in favor of the Union.

On his second attempt, DeRosario launched the ball over the crossbar, much to the relief of goalie Zach MacMath and the Union (7-12-3, 24 points), and it preserved the draw and took points away on the road for the first time since a July 4 win over Los Angeles. D.C. United stands at 11-8-4, with 37 points.

"I can only speak from my vantage point, but there was a lot of confusion," said midfielder Michael Lahoud, who played a full 90 minutes. "A lot of us didn't really know what was going on until after, we just heard the ref say 'Retake! Retake!' and yeah, it ended up being our saving grace."

But then things got buck wild.

In the 89th minute, United midfielder Branko Boskovic was ejected for what can only be described as an attempt to throw a left jab before trying to choke out Torres. Both Torres and Gabriel Farfan later received yellows for arguing with Geiger. Less than a minute later, Geiger pulled his red card again on a studs-up slide tackle on Union forward Antoine Hoppenot by United's Emiliano Dudar. Seconds later, Sheanon Williams slid in on Pontius, to earn his second yellow card. What followed was a lot of pushing, shoving and words that without question intensified this budding rivalry.

As for the Williams play . . .

"It was a great play in my opinion, no a fantastic play, one that Sheanon needed to make and I thought he got all ball in my opinion," said Hackworth. "It's a play that any player has to make in that situation, and what happens from there is out of Sheanon's control, out of my control, but Sheanon gets all ball on that tackle and it's a good tackle."

In the end, Geiger went into his pocket nine times, for six yellow and three red cards in a match that got so out of hand, fans of both clubs spewed insults and expletives so ferocious that all four officials had to be escorted off the pitch by stadium security.

"To be honest, it was building up during the whole game," said Williams of the stoppage-time melee. "They [United] were probably upset that they missed a PK that would have won the game and their emotions got the best of them. I think there were a lot of hard and physical tackles, and when that happens, the game intensity builds up, and obviously in this one it bubbled over."

Odds and endlines

Brian Carroll, a Springfield, Va., native, scored the Union's go-ahead goal in the eighth minute. It was Carroll's third straight on the road against his former club. When asked about his success against D.C., Carroll said: "Just being close to home, I guess, enjoy playing against friends and family and my old stomping grounds. Maybe there is a little extra incentive because I started my career here" . . . With Williams out, Hackworth said defender Raymon Gaddis is the obvious choice at his "natural position" at right fullback when the team takes on Real Salt Lake on Friday (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network) at PPL Park . . . The Union improved to 5-0-1 when taking a lead into halftime this season . . . Hackworth revealed midfielder Gabriel Gomez missed the match due to a late return to Philadelphia from national team duty with Panama against Portugal on Wednesday.

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