Insult was added to injury for Real Salt Lake last Saturday when late in their 3-0 loss to FC Dallas, center back Eddie Pope was sent off. In his post-game comments Pope said he had made contact with Dallas forward Eddie Johnson, but felt the red card was a little excessive.
"I obviously didn't think it was a red card, and I don't know at this stage what the referee would say about the call that he made," Pope said of the incident.
On the play in question, Johnson fell at the top of the 18-yard box in the 73rd minute, as Pope challenged him for the ball. Johnson went down, writhing in apparent pain for several minutes before limping off the field. But he later told the Dallas Morning News he had taken a dive and was not injured on the play.
Ellinger, who is usually very complimentary of the players he coached during his years at the helm of the U.S. under-17 national team, had harsh words for Johnson's actions.
"Eddie (Johnson) needs to relook at his mentors," Ellinger said. "That definitely surprised me. I wouldn't have thought that Eddie (Johnson) would do something like that, especially to someone like Eddie Pope, a fellow teammate on the national team."
In the aftermath, Johnson reportedly called Pope to apologize for the incident.
"It's water under the bridge now," said Pope when asked about the phone call. "That's just between me and him."
Pope is now suspended for the visit of the San Jose Earthquakes to Rice-Eccles Stadium this weekend.
"It's part of the game. Players make mistakes during the game, referees make mistakes," said Pope. "Unfortunately for me, it's a pretty big mistake, and I have to sit out because of it."
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.