It’s been a week since DC United’s season came to a screeching halt thanks to the Chicago Fire. In a thrilling two game series Chicago eliminated DC from the MLS playoffs by an aggregate score of 3-2. DC battled from 3-0 down to make it 3-2 and only needed a goal to force a 30 minute overtime. Christian Gomez looked to have evened the series with just minutes remaining but referee Jair Marrufo called a handball on Gomez. The ball clearly hit the arm of Gomez, but the rule says that the handball must be intentional for it to be a foul. Gomez and Chicago player Dasan Robinson were furiously battling to get to the ball that DC captain Jaime Moreno flicked on; the contact the ball had with Gomez’s arm was incidental. A photographer from the Washington Post brilliantly captured the moment.
Perhaps the handball call was a makeup for the cowardly call/non-call he made against DC goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 63rd minute. Chicago should have been awarded a penalty kick and Perkins should have been red carded for a foolish, rash challenge on Calen Carr who was in alone on Perkins with the goal at his mercy when Perkins took out his legs.
Like most knockout tournaments, the MLS playoffs are somewhat cynical and across the board referees have been unwilling to eject players. Of course the exception was in Dallas when Baldomero Toledo ejected two FC Dallas players. Well done Baldy, you’ve come a long way since starring on The Munsters.
This post is meant to be a reflective look at DC United’s season: I thought I’d be more philosophical after a week, but the bitter taste is still on my lips. DC have won the Supporter’s Shield as the team with the best regular season record the last two years. I’ve bought tickets to MLS Cup both years fully expecting to cheer DC on to their 5th title. Maybe next year.