The Washington Post

D.C. United 1, Columbus Crew 1

Nick DeLeon wards off Federico Higuain during the second half at Crew Stadium. (By Matt Sullivan — Getty Images)

After reading my match report with a few quotes from D.C. United’s 1-1 draw at Columbus, let’s chat about that obvious goal-scoring opportunity that should have resulted in a red card.

I have cued up this highlight package to the 71st minute when Columbus defender Giancarlo Gonzalez fouled Eddie Johnson from behind as the United forward cruised toward the penalty area. Gonzalez had denied a clear opportunity — Michael Parkhurst wasn’t going to catch Johnson — and faced expulsion. Instead, after a long delay and consultation with an assistant, referee Juan Guzman issued a yellow card.

Look, the ruling did not cost United two additional points. DCU gained a man advantage 10 minutes later and should have killed off the match. (Yes, United could argue it deserved a two-man advantage, but one should’ve been enough to do the job.)

That said, Guzman’s ruling on the Gonzalez-Johnson play shouldn’t be forgotten.

According to FIFA guidelines …

Referees should consider the following circumstances when deciding whether
to send off a player for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity:
• the distance between the offence and the goal
• the likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
• the direction of the play
• the location and number of defenders
• the offence which denies an opponent an obvious goalscoring opportunity
may be an offence that incurs a direct free kick or an indirect free kick

The play seemed to meet every criteria. We’ll never know how Guzman reached his conclusion in assessing yellow instead of red because, afterward, he declined to address a written question from the pool reporter, citing a procedural technicality.

According to a Crew representative who delivered the question, Guzman and his three colleagues claimed the 2014 Referee Pool Reporter Form was not posted in their locker room. Therefore, they said, they were not obligated to answer questions. The Crew rep then showed them the form on his smart phone. They declined again and headed for the parking lot — transparency and accountability be damned.

UPDATE: Paul Rejer, training and development manager for the Professional Referee Organization, tells me: “This is a clear case of DOGSO.” He did not want to comment further until he received feedback from the referee and his crew. “I will be very interested why such an obvious DOGSO wasn’t detected.”

Full highlight package:

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.