The latest from RFK Stadium as D.C. United continues preparations for the second leg of MLS’s Eastern Conference finals Sunday (4 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) against the Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium:
The manager of the organization that oversees officiating says, on second thought, Houston’s Andre Hainault should have been red-carded for taking down United’s Raphael Augusto late in the first half of Sunday’s 3-1 Dynamo victory.
Peter Walton, general manager of Professional Referee Organization, attended the match and said afterward that the play warranted a foul but not a red card. On Wednesday, however, he wrote on the group’s Web site:
“In review of that play, my opinion has changed in as much as the defender, which I thought in real time would have influenced the play, clearly was behind the action and therefore the disciplinary sanction should have been a red card for denial of a goal scoring opportunity. I made the initial statement on my real time opinion without having the advantage of a replay. Having reviewed the replay, it is clear it ticks all the boxes for a denial of as goal scoring opportunity and a send-off should have been the outcome.”
United was leading 1-0 when referee Ricardo Salazar allowed play to continue after Hainault tugged on Augusto’s arm and scissor-kicked him just beyond the penalty area. Hainault remained in the match and scored the equalizer early in the second half.
Told of Walton’s latest statement, United Coach Ben Olsen reacted in sarcastic tone.
“Oh, he did! Huh? I agree with him. I absolutely agree with him. I hate talking about referees. I really do. I hate that I talk about it. I hate that Steve makes me talk about it after the game and asks me these loaded questions. [You’re welcome, Ben.] It was a real call that could have changed the course of this series, and it’s disappointing. I don’t feel like we have gotten the greatest shake the last couple of weeks with the whole playoff series, but it’s what it is. We move on and we have a huge task ahead of us that we are excited about and we want to continue proving people wrong and do things people don’t expect out of us.”
The admission by the referee czar leads one to believe MLS will end up suspending Hainault for a dangerous tackle. (The league might have done so even without Walton’s statement, but given the video evidence and his comments, a one- or two-game penalty seems in order.)
UPDATE: MLS will not take action against Hainault. Situation was outside the parameters of disciplinary committee’s guidelines.
*United received encouraging results on MRI tests performed on two of United’s three injured starters, defender Brandon McDonald (calf) and midfielder Marcelo Saragosa (knee), but leading scorer Chris Pontius (groin) is in jeopardy of missing the second match.
“We have to evaluate them day to day,” Olsen said. “We’ll see about Chris. Chris at this point looks a little more severe than the other two, but there’s still a chance he will be okay as well.”
*When United returned from Houston, goalkeeper Bill Hamid had a letter waiting for him at RFK Stadium from Peter Earnest, executive director of the International Spy Museum, inviting him to a reception at the British Embassy on the occasion of the new James Bond movie, “Skyfall.”
Museum officials had read about Hamid’s obsession with 007 and reached out to him. Hamid had to decline the invitation because of a prior commitment but made arrangements for a museum tour when a Bond exhibit opens.
While in Houston, Hamid joined Lewis Neal, Dwayne De Rosario and Robbie Russell saw the film. “Very, very good movie,” Hamid said. “They didn’t get to a lot of the James Bond elements until the end of the movie. It was a halt from the regular Bond things, but I loved it.”