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Sunday Reax: Terry Vaughn's Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Game

Chris Pontius almost took the game out of referee Terry Vaughn's hands, but had a goal disallowed for offside (correctly) and twice hit the crossbar.
Chris Pontius almost took the game out of referee Terry Vaughn's hands, but had a goal disallowed for offside (correctly) and twice hit the crossbar.

Alas, another game, another match reax post that will be dominated by the referee's acts and omissions. I don't like talking about referee's decisions and engaging in the counterfactuals such discussions inevitably lead to. So in the spirit of ripping off the band-aid, let's power through it so we can talk about the parts of the game we enjoy.

  • The Charlie Davies penalty was obviously wrong. There wasn't any contact, and that's the ball game, even if Chris Wingert didn't get the ball. I'm not going to crucify Charlie as some surely will want to, though. I think Denz hit the nail on the head:  "Can I blame a player who is making a great run but has the ball get away from him a bit and a defender clear it away for going down and hoping to get a call?  Nope as long as officials make that call, the players will take advantage of it." I'll only add that Davies' growing reputation for going down in the box could come back to haunt him and the rest of D.C. United if referees become hesitant to give him and the team calls in the future.
  • As Martin said during the game, the penalty against Clyde Simms was the right call. United benefited from a similar call earlier this season, and as much as I'd like to complain, I really can't.
  • Jean Alexandre should have been given a straight red for his challenge on Jed Zayner early in the second half. The Real Salt Lake striker came in late with his studs showing and went right into the ankle of United's newly-healthy right back. When I first saw the replay, I thought Zayner's leg was broken; thankfully, though, Zayner was able to continue. The challenge was inexcusable, and the fact that no foul was called is incomprehensible.
  • I won't belabor the point any further. After the jump, we'll get into the actual, y'know, game.

    United rebounded well from the debacle against San Jose last weekend. They pressured well in midfield and made things difficult for RSL. The defense was tighter and more organized and dealt well with the Salt Lake strike force of Fabian Espindola and Alexandre. Zayner was very good out on the right, and Hamid made the saves he needed to make. Further up, Josh Wolff continued to play the creator role, and Blake Brettschneider continued his run of good form, winning headers and combining well with United's other attackers.

    Man of the match for me, though, was Chris Pontius. He was active and running at defenders throughout the game. He made runs at the back post, he put his shots on frame. Exactly on frame, in fact - Party Boy hit the woodwork twice. He did manage to find the back of the net once, but the goal was rightly disallowed for Wolff's offside infraction.

    In all, I think the draw was always going to be a fair result on the day. RSL had stretches where they were their usual ball-hoarding selves, but United stayed even on quality throughout. On balance, I'd even say the better chances went to the Black-and-Red. One point is a big get for a road team at Rio Tinto, though, and I'll take it.

    Next up for D.C. is a home date with the Dynamo next Saturday. It'll be a very different tactical challenge, and we'll see just how well our young backline has learned to deal with big damn strikers since the drubbing in Houston (and the subsequent drubbing at the hands of Steven Lenhart and the San Jose Earthquakes).