FRISCO, Texas – Saturday night’s match between FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers ended well for the hosts, as a strike from Young Designated Player Mauro Díaz notched FCD's third win of the season and pushed them to a league-best 10 points.
But a sudden incident transformed the game in the 39th minute, as a player from each side was sent packing inexplicably for an incident that hardly anyone seemed to have seen.
“The players were moving out from Portland’s penalty area when Watson struck Harrington,” head referee Sorin Stoica told a pool reporter following the match. “Harrington struck him back. Both were off the ball. Both players were sent off for violent conduct.”
FCD head coach Oscar Pareja said he was too far from where the event happened, and he would have to check the video to see what happened for himself.
“I spoke with the player and the player said he didn’t do anything. But that’s it,” Pareja told reporters postgame. “We have to respect the law and sometimes we may disagree and that’s the way it is. It’s a bit frustrating.”
For his part, Watson professed his innocence – and confusion – in the locker room after the match.
“I’m still pissed I got a red card for nothing,” Watson told reporters. “He didn’t say nothing to me and I didn’t say nothing to him.”
Watson disagreed with the referee’s version of events, saying there was no off-the-ball incident and neither he nor Harrington delivered any blows.
“So I don’t even know what to say, because it was like he just issued a red card for nothing at all,” Watson said.
The game opened up considerably when both teams were left with 10 men, with Dallas’ opening goal occurring a little more than five minutes later.
Both teams scored as play flowed from end to end in the second half before Díaz netted the home team's winner in the 84th minute.
Asked whether or not the team would appeal Watson’s red card, Pareja said, “We will discuss that, obviously, but the best part is that many other things happened during the game, more entertaining than that one.”