Revolution Beats D.C. United, 2-1, on Late Penalty Kick

By Kyle McCarthy
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, May 31, 2009

FOXBOROUGH, Mass., May 30 -- D.C. United defender Bryan Namoff couldn't believe it when the whistle blew to hand New England a penalty kick.

Even in the locker room after the match, Namoff wasn't certain what he'd done to allow Steve Ralston to step up and slot home the shot in the 90th minute to give New England an improbable 2-1 victory at Gillette Stadium.

After asking referee Hilario Grajeda, who blew the whistle, and assistant referee Daniel Belleau, who flagged for the penalty kick from the sideline with the referee a short distance away, Namoff wasn't sure they were all that certain, either.

"All that was said to me was that there was a pulling," Namoff said. "They didn't say on who. They just said there was a pulling."

The pulling, as judged by the officiating crew, occurred between Namoff and Revolution striker Taylor Twellman. Twellman looked to establish position in the box to latch onto a long ball in the box with Namoff on his back. As that jostling occurred, Twellman fell to the ground.

"My hands are up," Namoff said. "I'm not in a position to foul or pull him in any way. He was leaning into me and eventually falls. There was no pulling or grabbing or anything of that nature."

The call provided a bizarre ending to a game where United played perhaps its best half of the season in the opening half and emerged with zero points. It also left United fuming about the referee stepping in to decide a game on a borderline call.

"You want the game to be ended by soccer, not a call. I'm going to look at the replay," United Coach Tom Soehn said. "I got a million text messages telling me how bad it was. I'm going to watch it, and I'm sure I'm going to be very disappointed that the game ends on a call like that."

Though United will be disappointed and unhappy with the ending, the points never should have been in doubt in the late stages. United ripped New England in the opening half, using its superior possession and offensive play to create multiple chances, and should have been well ahead by halftime.

The vast majority of those chances went begging. Two shots -- Luciano Emilio's early header and a Fred shot before halftime -- hit the crossbar, while Rodney Wallace was foiled by Matt Reis once and by his wastefulness on the other side.

"We were playing around very well," Soehn said. "The unfortunate part is that we didn't get more out of it. We were pretty sharp and created a lot of opportunities. We were a step ahead of them for the most part."

Despite being a step or two ahead, United could only turn that advantage into a slender one goal lead before the break. Fred -- filling in for the injured Christian Gómez (toe) -- collected an Emilio knockdown and curled home moments after he had been denied by the crossbar.

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