CHESTER, Pa. – Haris Medunjanin has showcased plenty of soccer skills over the first few months of his debut MLS season.
On Saturday night, he showed off his honesty too – and his intolerance for anyone he doesn’t think plays the game the right way.
In a bizarre sequence that was only revealed after the Philadelphia Union’s 1-0 win over D.C. United, referee Sorin Stoica rescinded a red card he originally showed to Luciano Acosta because the player that was fouled – Medunjanin – said the offense wasn’t worthy of one.
“I’m always honest,” Medunjanin said. “I try to win and I don’t want to win with a dirty play or something like this. For me, it’s important that we won and we played a fair game.”
The play in question happened in the 74th minute when, with Philly clinging to a one-goal lead, Acosta dragged down Medunjanin and then appeared to kick him as he laid on the ground. But Stoica said after the match via a pool reporter that he “rescinded the card because [Medunjanin] stated that he was not kicked after the play, which was the initial decision I made,” adding that he had no input from the fourth official.
“I went to the referee and he said, ‘Did he kick you?’ and I said, ‘No, he didn’t kick me, I think it was just a push,'” Medunjanin recalled. “That’s why it was no red card for me. I hope Felipe was watching from last week — I wish he could say the same.”
Medunjanin’s honesty – and swipe at the Red Bulls’ Felipe, who drew a questionable red card in New York’s 2-0 win against the Union last week – seemed to endear him with Union fans. But he admits with a laugh that “maybe if it was a draw, it would’ve been a little different.”
The Bosnian midfielder earned some high praise from the opposing side, too.
“I got a lot of respect for that,” D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said. “I think he’s a classy player and a classy human being.”
Union head coach Jim Curtin added that it was an “incredible act” that shows what kind of man Medunjanin is, before admitting that he doesn't know if he would have done the same thing himself. But his teammates were a little more tongue-in-cheek in their postgame comments, enjoying some playful ribs at Medunjanin.
“I don’t know if Haris and the referee or Haris and Acosta are actually best friends, I don’t know,” cracked Onyewu, looking over at Medunjanin in the locker room. “Maybe they are going out later tonight and they didn’t want any bad tension.”