VANCOUVER, B.C. – A moment of madness from midfielder Jun Marques Davidson put the Vancouver Whitecaps in a tough spot just eight minutes in to Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union.
On what turned out to be the game’s crucial moment, the Japanese-American reacted angrily to a challenge from Philadelphia's Keon Daniel by headbutting his opponent in the back.
Referee Baldomero Toledo was decisive, immediately reaching for his red card and dismissing Davidson, meaning the ‘Caps were forced to play with just 10 men for the majority of the match.
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While Vancouver defended resolutely in front of a sold out crowd of 21,000, a strike from substitute Antoine Hoppenot five minutes from time ultimately sealed Vancouver’s defeat on the night – ending their season-long home unbeaten run at BC PLace.
“It’s just what happened,” Davidson told reporters immediately following the game. “I reacted wrong. For all of it, I just want to apologize to all the players. It’s very tough to play nearly the entire 90 minutes with 10 men.
"I just want to apologize to all the fans and supporters that came to watch the game," Davidson said after the match. “It’s very disappointing and what I did was wrong.”
When asked directly if referee Toledo made the correct decision to dismiss him, Davidson was less forthright.
“I don’t know,” Davidson said. “I’m not the ref. I just think that what I did and how I reacted was wrong.”
As for his coach, Rennie said he had no problem with the dismissal, only his player’s rash reaction.
“The obvious pivotal point in the game is early on in the game when Jun Marques gets sent off,” Rennie said. “He reacted in a way he shouldn’t have, he made a mistake, and ultimately we paid the price for that, because I thought we played well after that.
“I was really proud of the players' effort and desire. Even with 10 men they had a lot of chances and put a lot into the game.”
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Davidson will miss at least the next match due to suspension, and perhaps even more games should the MLS Disciplinary Committee see fit.
As for whether the incident will cost Davidson his starting place going forward, Rennie wasn’t sucked in to an immediate response of his own.
“It’s frustrating when something like that happens,” Rennie said. “But you have to take a step back and decide about that later.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.