WASHINGTON – D.C. United coach Ben Olsen walked into the press conference following his team’s 1-1 draw against Philadelphia holding a small, folded-up piece of notebook paper.
On it was a written explanation from the officials – led by head referee and recent London Olympics selection Mark Geiger – as to why encroachment was called against Hamdi Salihi on captain Dwayne De Rosario’s successful penalty kick attempt in the 87th minute that would have given United a 2-1 lead Sunday at RFK Stadium.
Following a scrum where Roger Torres and Gabriel Farfan were shown yellow cards and Branko Boskovic was handed a red, De Rosario missed his second penalty attempt over the crossbar.
Read the explanation: “Salihi entered the penalty area arc (within 10 yards of the ball) before the ball was kicked. Since the ball entered the net, the kick must be retaken.”
And Olsen’s response?
“It’s the Geiger show. He wants to make the big call to change a game,” Olsen said. “It’s what they do. Coming back from the Olympics, it was his show tonight. His show. Not about the players.”
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
De Rosario (above), who returned to action after missing one match with a shoulder injury, was as perplexed as Olsen with events that transpired in the match’s final five minutes.
“Because of the fiasco that was going on, [Geiger] really didn’t say anything [to me],” De Rosario said “It was disappointing to have the opportunity to score, then all that happens, a red card and you have to take it again. It’s frustrating.
“I still should have scored it, but it is what it is,” he added. “You’ve got to keep moving on.”
The encroachment ruling compounded a number of questionable calls outside DC’s favor, including when Salihi was ruled for goalkeeper interference in the 64th minute as Nick DeLeon banged home what would have been the go-ahead tally.
“I’m not sure why [encroachment] was called,” said United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who received a yellow in the 96th minute. “If I really gave my opinion, I would get suspended for the rest of the season. But I’m baffled. I’ve never seen anything like this. This is the most confusing thing. It’s like no one had control the whole game.”
The vitriol from D.C.’s players toward the officials was evident, especially in a locker room that saw three potential points evaporate to one in the final 20 minutes of a wild, physical contest. After Boskovic was given a red – which he later contested should have been a caution – Emiliano Dudar and Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams were also thrown out as emotions boiled over.
Overall, nine cards were issued in the match, six from the 89th minute forward.
“That’s what happens when referees don’t have control of the game and don’t have a good pulse of what’s going on out there,” Olsen said.
United have little time to regroup, and must do so knowing Boskovic and Dudar won’t be available when the Chicago Fire visit RFK on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET).
Said Olsen: “We’ve got to [expletive] and moan tonight and smash some lockers and all that stuff, and then tomorrow forget about it and get ready for a very good Chicago team on Wednesday.”