WASHINGTON—In the moments after D.C. United’s 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of their Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal series on Sunday, there were plenty of players in United’s locker room already anticipating the return leg, eager to wash away New York’s narrow aggregate-goal lead and forge a path to the Conference Championship.
And there were some, including United head coach Ben Olsen, who couldn’t help but wonder what could’ve been – had New York central defender Ronald Zubar been sent off for a strong challenge on United midfielder Markus Halsti in the 68th minute, one for which he only saw yellow.
Days later, some wondered whether Zubar would face a midweek suspension from the league's Disciplinary Committee. When that did not turn out to be the case on Wednesday, Olsen responded.
"I think it’s a joke,” Olsen said. "I think if Markus rolls around a few times and goes over to the trainer and they put some cold spray on him maybe it’s different; maybe if I have 10 guys over there, if it’s [a] mass confrontation, [if we’re] doing all the things they tell us not to do — maybe we would’ve gotten a red card out of that."
"It’s ok,” he continued. "I don’t think it changes the dynamics of the next game too much. It would’ve changed the dynamic of that game. It’s not what happened – there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m not surprised that there wasn’t any disciplinary action; I was surprised that there was disciplinary action on Bobby Boswell last week. But I’m not surprised that there’s none on Zubar’s this week.”
Boswell served a one-game suspension on Sunday for an off-the-ball incident during United’s Knockout Round match against New England. The Disciplinary Committee reviewed footage culled from non-broadcast cameras in the days following the match, and then handed down the suspension.
Olsen will need all hands on deck on Sunday, yet the status of several players remained a question mark.
After Sunday’s loss, Olsen suggested fullback Sean Franklin had been struggling with an Achilles' ailment, one that has hampered him all year. On Wednesday, Olsen clarified: "He wasn’t out [at training] today – it’s not an Achilles', it’s a little bit of an ankle roll. [He’s] day-to-day.
As are others: midfielder Michael Farfan attended training but didn’t participate fully, while Chris Pontius — perhaps United’s biggest missing piece of all — spent his morning in the weight room. Suffering from a hamstring ailment, United's longest-tenured member remains uncertain for this weekend’s clash.