In the 90th minute of an unruly MLS match before 12,312 at RFK Stadium, De Rosario stepped to the penalty spot. It was his second attempt after a successful try was nullified because a teammate had entered the semicircle beyond the 18-yard box.
A fracas after the first bid, resulting in Branko Boskovic’s ejection, had delayed De Rosario’s second effort, perhaps giving the 2011 MLS MVP too much time to think about it. When order was restored, De Rosario’s penalty kick skipped off the crossbar, all but ending United’s hope of extending its home winning streak to eight.
The miss didn’t end the drama, however. United’s Emiliano Dudar was red-carded in the first minute of stoppage time for a reckless tackle, Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams was tossed for a questionable second yellow card, and in the confusion of the waning moments, United’s Brandon McDonald and Chris Korb exchanged words.
“It was just a little miscommunication on how we were going to treat the last play of the game,” McDonald said. “It was no big deal.”
After the final whistle, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid shoved the Union’s Antoine Hoppenot.
De Rosario was disappointed in himself about the miss and Coach Ben Olsen was troubled by United’s first half, which ended in a 1-0 deficit on former D.C. midfielder Brian Carroll’s goal. United (11-8-4) tied it in the 71st minute when Boskovic’s free kick deflected off Philadelphia’s Amobi Okugo for an own goal.
Olsen, club President Kevin Payne and some players saved their strongest words for Mark Geiger, an Olympic referee who lost control of this match early and made several disputed calls in the second half.
“It’s the Geiger show,” Olsen huffed. “He wants to make a big call to change games. It’s what they do.
“Coming back from the Olympics, it was his show tonight. It’s not about the players.”
Said Payne: “He had a very poor night, not just on one call but on multiple calls. . . . The call on the penalty is like a high school call. . . . He is just back from the Olympics. He likes to be on NBC Sports apparently. He was on it a lot today.” (The MLS match was televised by NBC Sports Network.)
Despite the controversy, United should’ve won the match after applying ridiculous pressure in the late stages. (The final corner kick margin was 12-1.) With the score tied, Chris Pontius was tripped in the box. De Rosario deposited the ensuing penalty kick into the lower left corner, but Geiger whistled Hamdi Salihi for encroachment. TV replays showed he made an accurate call, but the infraction is rarely enforced.
While Boskovic was ejected in the aftermath for grabbing an opponent, De Rosario and Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath stood over the ball at the penalty spot. When play resumed, De Rosario missed.
“It’s disappointing to have all that happen and then take it again — and miss,” De Rosario said.
United was also upset about a disallowed goal in the 64th minute. MacMath didn’t appear to have control of De Rosario’s shot when Salihi and a Union player attacked the ball. It squirted loose to Nick DeLeon for a clear shot into the net. Geiger, however, called a foul on Salihi.
United’s chances stockpiled throughout the match. MacMath made three excellent saves and Philadelphia’s Freddy Adu cleared newcomer Lionard Pajoy’s header off the goal line.
The Union (7-12-3) went ahead in the eighth minute. Adu served a free kick from 35 yards to the edge of the six-yard box. Okugo headed the ball down to Carlos Valdes, who instinctively one-timed it.
The shot was heading well off target but caromed off United’s Perry Kitchen and back across the six-yard box to Carroll for a putaway at the goal line.
Carroll might’ve been a half-step offside, but TV replays were inconclusive and, in fairness to the assistant referee, the sequence unfolded quickly and in an odd manner.
Hamid made an excellent one-on-one save on Williams late in the half. Meantime, United couldn’t find the equalizer. Finally, in the 71st, Boskovic’s free kick left MacMath flat-footed and struck Okugo.
From that point, the match unraveled.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Hamid said. “This is the most confusing thing. It was like no one had control of the game.”
Boskovic and Dudar are suspended for Wednesday’s home match against the Chicago Fire (12-7-5).