One play changes everything. Although this statement can be at times a bit cliche, there are moments when it can be applied appropriately. Wednesday's match between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls is a great example of this. With a simple send-off of D.C. United forward Fabian Espindola, the New York Red Bulls were able to gain a man advantage. That advantage proved to be vital as the Red Bulls were able to claim their first victory over D.C. this season in a 1-0 victory.
The play in question occurred in the 31st minute of Wednesday's match. Espindola and Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty both went after a ball. After a bounce that went in McCarty's favor, Espindola took his foot out and appeared to have his cleat hit the chest of McCarty. McCarty went down after the play and appeared to be in some level of pain (although he did not leave the match). As a result of the play, referee Mark Geiger issued Espindola a red card.
What seems to be in question about the play is the intent. Replay (which is not accessible to referees during the match) seems to show the foul as not as hard as originally thought. Given that it was essentially a 50-50 ball and that there had been no cards issued at that point, Espindola's sending off angered both United players and coach Ben Olsen.
"I got to look at it again, but to me it’s a soccer play that happens all the time where you go in – and Fabian plays with this heart – he goes in for a challenge," said Olsen after the match. "It’s just poor."
Olsen made his feelings known about the call during the match, at times being quite demonstrative towards Geiger and the officiating crew. When asked whether he thought he would be ejected from the match, Olsen said, "Sure, I wasn’t that concerned at the moment but I’m sure I was pushing it tonight. But in a game like this against New York, in what should be a good soccer game, a good rivalry game. To not have it be that way because of a bad call, it’s frustrating and it’s tough to get over."
Even McCarty seems to disagree with Geiger's assessment. After the match he posted the following on Twitter.