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Sam nets late winner as Red Bulls top 10-man D.C. United

Lloyd Sam celebration by Noah K Murray (USA Today)Photo by Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports


HARRISON, N.J. —With both time and a potential playoff spot ticking away by the second, the New York Red Bulls were in need of something special. Luckily for the Red Bulls, Lloyd Sam was happy to oblige.

The Red Bulls midfielder earned his side all three points with just minutes remaining by netting a 90th minute winner in Wednesday’s clash with D.C. United, earning the Red Bulls a 1-0 victory and a crucial three points that throws the team right back into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

With just minutes remaining in a contest that was dominated by the Red Bulls, a streaking Sam was found by defender Jameson Olave, whose through ball split a D.C. United defense that had remained so strong through the game’s opening 90 minutes. In all alone, Sam buried the ensuing shot, giving the Red Bulls a much needed escape with three points.

“I’m buzzing that (Olave) passed it to me,” Sam said of the finish. “I’m very happy. I’ve already gone to (Olave) and shook his hand and said well done.”

The first half’s pivotal moment came in the 35th minute, as D.C. United forward Fabian Espindola was sent off for a high tackle on Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty. Espindola, who scored 11 goals for the Red Bulls in 2013, pleaded his case to referee Mark Geiger, but was show a straight red, reducing the visitors to ten men, much to D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen’s dismay.

“To me, it’s not a good call,” Olsen said. “It’s a soccer play that happens all the time where you go in and Fabian plays with his heart and he goes in for challenges. It’s just poor. It just ruins the game. It’s just disappointing.

“In a game like this, against New York, that should be a good soccer game, a good back and forth rival game,” Olsen continued. “To not have it be that because of a bad call is frustrating and it’s tough to get over.”

For his part, McCarty tended to agree with Olsen’s assessment of the play, as the Red Bull midfielder admitted that he felt the call was a bit too far.

“I saw the replay and I think it’s harsh to be honest,” McCarty said. “For me, from the refs point of view you can see his studs are high, but I don’t think he’s looking at me. I don’t think his intent was to hit me. Maybe it looks worse than it is

“I don’t think it was malicious at all. It was one of those bang-bang plays where a referee has to make a decision and he made his decision.”

Following Espindola’s dismissal, the Red Bulls asserted themselves as the dominant side, as D.C. United sat back as a solid defensive unit, which frustrated the Red Bulls throughout the evening.

“When they go down to ten men before halftime, you’re sitting there thinking to yourself that we’re going to have a lot of the ball, but we aren’t going to have many clear cut chances because they’re so deep, so organized,” McCarty said. “Everyone knows their job. They’re not a flashy team, they just do a lot of things really well.”

Despite D.C.’s defense, the hosts created a slew of chances as the half winded down, with a trio of those chances belonging to MLS Golden Boot leader Bradley Wright-Phillips, who was eventually removed at halftime due to tightness in his right hamstring.

With Wright-Phillips absent for the entirety of the second half, the D.C. United defense stood strong, especially when it came to keeping an eye on Henry. The French forward was given little room to breathe, as the team leading assister-getter was repeatedly swarmed by the D.C. United trio of Sean Franklin, Nick DeLeon and Bobby Boswell on his favored left side.

Despite the tight marking, Henry did his best to create for the hosts, who were repeatedly rebuffed by the D.C. United defense. The former Arsenal star put together four shots in the second frame, the best of which was parried away by a sliding Bill Hamid in the 77th minute.

With Henry lurking from close range, the Hamid put forth a save-of-the-week candidate, sliding out to meet the Red Bulls forward before blocking the ball out with his back hand.

“I almost forget about Bill’s saves now,” Olsen said in praise of his goalkeeper. “That’s the biggest compliment I can give him.”

“He’s a great goalkeeper,” Henry said of Hamid. “He’s been doing it in this league for a long time. He was magnificent tonight.”

The D.C. United goalkeeper came up big yet again in the 70th minute by pushing away a close-range effort from Red Bulls midfielder Peguy Luyindula.

The attack was kickstarted by Sam, whose run towards the backline created space for Luyindula in the center of the box. Sam’s ensuing cross was lined up for a  Luyindula shot on goal, but the Frenchman’s ensuing effort was pushed away by Hamid to keep the hosts off the board in what appeared to be just another off night for the Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls finally did earn their breakthrough, however, as Sam’s winner gave the Red Bulls a much-needed victory over their rivals.

“It did seem (that it wasn’t our night),” Sam said. “Once it got to the 90th minute, it seemed like we weren’t going to get a goal. Hamid has done this to us a few times actually. He always seems to play well against us but, it turned out to be our night.”

With the victory, the Red Bulls leapfrog the Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, which excited the already ever-smiling Sam.

“We know how big the points are right now, so we’ve got to keep going,” Sam said. “We needed that win. It feels great to get it. Look at the league table. We needed that win so bad. I’m looking forward to having a look at the table now.”

The Red Bulls now face a short turnaround with a trip to Philadelphia scheduled for Saturday. Meanwhile, D.C. United head to Jamaica on Tuesday to face Waterhouse FC in the CONCACAF Champions League. They then return to MLS action on Sept. 20, traveling to Chicago to take on the Fire.

Watch the match highlights:


  1. To answer some of ur question about my dislike for olsen. The guy as someone said above was a hack player and he has translated that type of style to his players and yet he wants to bitch and moan about a redcard while yes it was questionable, that play by espindola was reckless, and olsen wants to say that we came here to play soccer and see two good teams play soccer not bunker down like his team has done in all three games vs redbulls. He is a phony and granted he is emotional I get it but the guy comes of very amateurish.

    The dislike to some of his players who are not very talented but try to make it up by playing an atrocious brand of soccer much like the mentality of their coach. Dc is horrendous and I truly dont think they stack up to skc, i dont care about their last result, or any of the top teams in the west and even redbulls. As a neutral observer I watched all three games vs redbulls and they were extremely lucky in all three but only hamid couldnt save them fully last night.

    • olsen wasn’t a ‘hack player’. not sure where that came from (an nyrb fan, i’m assuming).

      and if you choose to ignore a 3-0 win against a team you ‘don’t think they stack up to’, you may not be such an neutral observer.

  2. I was thinking I should step in between some of you.

    I guess a west coast guy didn’t realize just how great this rivalry is…..sweet.
    The playoff series, and there probably will be one, is going to be fierce.

  3. By the way is there anyone less likeable to watch then dc from their coach to their players. I want to puke and hope they never see any success. The only player i like and who deserves praise from that overrated team is bill hamid. From olsen to deleon to espindola, eddie johnson, kitchen, boswell…..i can go on and on. A bunch of unlikeable players for sure.

      • Yes, certainly unlikable, but in his case RB did the right thing and got rid of him. Even the South Ward didn’t like him. A big difference from disposal to resigning.

    • certainly not an objective observer here, but i would love to know what you find unlikeable about deleon, espindola, kitchen, boswell (and on and on, apparently). they seem like typical pro athletes to me.

      for comparison’s sake, what teams do you like watching?

      i do understand not liking eddie johnson, and yeah, olsen can be a bit of a d!ck (but he’s *our* d!ck!)–then again, there’s probably one or two on every team.

  4. It”s over and done with and quite frankly DC weren’t that much different with 11 on the field. Just like the last two losses to DC, RB dominated and wasted their chances. This time they finished, though it took a bit to get there. I also agree that Olsen is in the same classless league as Vermes, both top notch whiners.
    Having your keeper be the MVP of the game is not a good sign for one’s team. Boy do we at RB know this, having Robles save our butts too many times.

  5. Everyone sing:

    DC is ghetto (Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap,Clap)
    Very, very ghetto (Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap,Clap)
    Jaime Moreno (Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap,Clap)
    King of the Ghetto! (Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap,Clap)

    A golden oldie from around 2000.

  6. I was watching the game with several very experienced Refs. The concensus was that it should have been a yellow card. Geiger missed the call, probably because he had a bad angle. Epindola should not have put himself in that position. Still, its clear their was no intent, and in watching the replays several times he was watching the ball and was going to the ball not the man. In addition, the studs were not turned to McCarthy but away from him in the attempt to control the ball. Bottom line, when you raise your foot that high – that is reckless. However, that is a Yellow NOT a Red.

  7. Vermes surpasses him for the volume and non-stop nature of his yelling and whining, but last night Olsen was in rare form himself. Pretty easy lip-reading job on his reaction to the goal and thereafter.

  8. I was at the game and watched Espindola run around and hack us like a fool for the time period that he was out there. The magnitude of the game clearly got to him. Deserved red card, as he should have had several fouls called on him that went uncalled up until that point. So many late tackles.

    • yes, a player like espindola would clearly be rattled by a league game against the 5th place team in the east.

      if a player is repeatedly making questionable tackles, the ref gives a yellow and warns him not to do it again. that’s why the yellow is there.

      • Rivalry match against a former club, much? His head wasn’t on straight. Dax was first to the ball and he’s sticking his boot up near Dax’s throat with no chance of winning it. Extremely dangerous, bone headed play. The icing on the cake to several other bone headed attempts he made last night.

        If this was Armando making that play, you’d be screaming murder lol. Red card, hit the showers Spindy hahaha.

      • “he’s sticking his boot up near Dax’s throat with no chance of winning it.”

        the highlights are right up above if you didn’t watch the game.

        who’s armando?

      • no, it just sounds weird that you say espindola had no chance, when he actually got the ball.

        don’t feel bad–if i was a nyrb fan, i wouldn’t want to watch such an extravagant disappointment of a team either.

      • Dude, what was he gonna do with that ball in that position with Dax already there? Bonehead play man. There was no chance at gaining anything from kicking his leg out besides catching Dax to slow him down. It was a tactical foul, and a dangerous one at that. Thats a red card for me!!! **Simon Borg voice**

      • Dangerous to whom?

        Certainly not to McCarty. Running into the side of someone’s leg/foot is going to knock the wind out of you, at most.

        That’s just not SFP.

      • @rbny

        honestly? i thought espindola was trying to be fancy and flick the ball up over dax.

        that said, it was certainly a foul by espindola, and, as i said earlier, i don’t have a problem with a yellow, especially due to persistent infringement.

      • and he’s been a pro for 10 years now–only one of them at nyrb. for better or worse, i don’t think he cares about the rivalry, or nyrb, all that much.

  9. Right before he takes out Dax he jumped with Henry for a ball and knocked him to the ground. Geiger was in a good position to see both plays. I would guess it might have been a combination of the aggression in both challenges that made him make the decision.

    • Nope. That’s not how it works. If he considered the previous challenge a foul he would have whistled or played advantage. If both challenges were considered cautionable but advantage had been played on the first, the cards would have been Yellow-Yellow-Red, not Red. If the first challenge (advantage or not) and the second challenge add up to persistent infringement, the card is yellow. PI plus a cautionable second challenge could technically be yellow-yellow-red, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen that. Point is: the only thing that “adds up” to a RC is two YCs. A challenge that isn’t a YC and an “orange card” challenge aren’t a red.

      Furthermore, Geiger was generally well positioned, but was not in good position to see the second play because he was screened by McCarty’s body. That said, there’s not that much he can do about that.

      • It works how the ref decides it works it is decision. In the real World humans don’t make decisions in a vacuum. If he sees an aggressive player running around how does he not factor that into a decision? The ref doesn’t see one play and forget it and then see the next play and make a totally separate decision based on that play. After altercations or chippy moments in a match referees tend to call games tighter. They have to manage the match depending on what is going on.

      • there are extensive rules to follow, so that refs can be consistent from game to game, and so players can know, generally, what to expect.

        fouls like this one happen frequently, and in situations extremely similar to this one–and the reason why people (including the fouled player) think this punishment was unwarranted is because they know what to expect from referees, and this ref overreacted.

      • This is a really down-in-the weeds procedure discussion, so I’m not surprised at your confusion.

        “It works how the ref decides it works it is decision. In the real World humans don’t make decisions in a vacuum.”

        Nope. Refs have big books (PDFs now) of procedure they follow. You do consider prior acts when making *certain* decisions. Sending off a player for SFP isn’t really one of those. If a foul is considered SFP, it’s a RC, even if he’s been a saint all match. Conversely, even if he’s been rough, you can’t send him off if it’s not SFP or another sendoff offense.

        ” If he sees an aggressive player running around how does he not factor that into a decision?”
        This would be persistent infringement: a cautionable offense.

        “The ref doesn’t see one play and forget it and then see the next play and make a totally separate decision based on that play.”
        Again: Persistent Infringement. Cautionable. Not a direct sendoff.

        “After altercations or chippy moments in a match referees tend to call games tighter. They have to manage the match depending on what is going on.”

        Google “100% misconduct”.

        We know that PI wasn’t applied as the cards given don’t match the procedure you’d follow for two cautionable offenses occurring within the same phase of play. What I’m saying is that your interpretation of what happened is incorrect. Geiger saw the foul against McCarty and ONLY the foul against McCarty as a misconduct-worthy foul. BTW: Had he seen the previous foul as worthy of misconduct, he would have shown the Yellow first, then the direct Red.

      • Dude I am not confused. I am talking about human nature. I never said his call was a great call that followed all of the proper protocols and procedures of the laws of the game. That is nice that rule and rules but they are never and will never be applied exactly the same in all situations. What I said was it may have been a combination of both plays that affected his decision making. For all we know what he ate for dinner gave him a stomach ache and that affected his decision making but we have no information to back that up. We can see that prior to the play in question for the card the player that was red carded was aggressive and so could Matt Geiger. He is not a robot that your analysis seems to be portraying.

      • Human nature? Pfft… Whatever man. That has nothing at all to do with refereeing. Spend ten minutes with a whistle watch and book, and you’ll figure that out. You’ve got to be analytical the whole time.

        ” What I said was it may have been a combination of both plays that affected his decision making.”

        And what you said is wrong. He didn’t look at those two incidents and go “Yup, those two add up to a direct red.” That’s against the LOTG, much less referee procedure.

        I’ve met Mark Geiger when he did a DCU match with a MDCVA SRA event afterwards. My takeaway from that was that referees at that level are actually procedural robots, but the procedures and guidance have just been so internalized that they look natural. I guarantee you that if he saw the prior challenge as cautionable and the subsequent one as SFP, the cards would have been Yellow (with a point to where the prior incident occurred) and then Red. Instead, he went straight red on a bad SFP call that he couldn’t see. His procedure indicates that prior actions played no part in his decision. Heck… if you go back and look at the video, he doesn’t even *acknowledge* the previous incident. There’s no sign for advantage, and you don’t hear him shouting.

        So no… The “prior bad act” is a tissue-thin defense for what is simply a missed call. I don’t think that even MG would attempt to write it up that way in his match report.

      • BTW: The reason you caution a player even if you’re about to send him off anyway is so that there’s a record of it for the sanctioning body. It’s the same reason referees caution and send off players after matches sometimes. Recording the match events is one of the duties charged to the referee in Law V.

      • BTW 2: PRO grades its referees on their perfomances. While I’ve never seen their rubric, I have seen assessments at (much) lower levels and adherence to procedure makes up a large portion of the grade. I would be absolutely shocked if it were not so with PRO.

      • BTW3: (Last one, I swear..)

        What you’re saying is basically, “We don’t know why he made the call in the way he did.”

        What I’m saying is: “Yes, we do, if we pay attention to the referee’s actions and are mindful of referee procedures.”

        Which is more likely:
        A) A Referee of MG’s caliber mistakenly believes a challenge is SFP and then follows the proper procedure for it?
        B) A Referee of MG’s caliber misinterprets the LOTG to concoct a sendoff, and then fails to follow the proper procedure when acting on his misinterpretation.

        I don’t know about you, but (A) seems a lot more likely to me, and it is much more generous to Mr. Geiger.

      • I did this Google “100% misconduct”.

        I didn’t see anywhere in this about how a the time in the game should affect decisions at all even though referees clearly pull out cards later in matches more frequently and for the same types of infractions that occurred earlier in the a match. They are also hesitate to pull a second yellow for a player and get him out of a game. Decisions are clearly situational to some degree. We will never know what Mr Geiger was thinking but I have not met him so I will defer to your analysis that he possesses robotic like characteristics and follows rules to their exacting specifications as specified in the rules of the game.

      • That’s the point of “100% misconduct”.

        Misconduct is misconduct at the beginning of the game and is at the end of the game. Regardless of score. Regardless of whether or not a player is on a card or on the verge of an accumulation suspension. The point of “100% misconduct” is to not let misconduct slide. If you believe that “lighter application” of misconduct actually occurs and your evidence is lack of cards early in games or by booked players, then you’re ignoring the contribution that players make. They don’t often go as hard early in matches. They don’t go as hard when they’re booked. That’s not the referee’s “fault”.

        Had Geiger seen something bookable from Espindola ahead of the incident he called SFP, I’m confident that he would have cautioned and then sent off the offender.

        FWIW: You can play advantage from a foul that you deem SFP and then go back and send off the offender. The advantage has to be huge, though, because SFP that is not addressed has a tendency to lead to mass confrontations. I honestly have no idea what would happen if the the to-be sent off player then committed another bookable offense before you could book him. I don’t think you’d show him another card, but rather you’d just write it up. Either way… that would be a PITA.

  10. Jámison, not Jameson.

    Huge 3 points for the Red Bulls. Wasn’t pretty, doesn’t matter. After all the calls that haven’t gone their way their year, Red Bulls will not feel bad about the harsh red at all.

  11. At first, and second, view I thought, no way, that is barely a yellow and he didn’t even see Dax coming. But then, focusing a little bit more on Espindola in the replay, he definitely sees Dax, there is no chance he’ll get the ball by flailing his leg like that. It is a careless leg swing at the least – and lazy tackles should get punished – and I think he only decided to swing his leg when he noticed a player flying at the ball, which implies a little bit of intent.

    • I agree. When he saw Dax coming he realized Dax would get the ball so he fouled him with a studs showing dangerous kick. The only reason I have a problem with it is people get away with worse fouls all the time, but that doesn’t mean Geiger shouldn’t call it.

    • he did get the ball. and his studs are not going toward dax at all.

      if geiger wanted to make a point, he could’ve given a yellow. in no way should that have been a red.

      • He showed studs, even if they didn’t strike Dax (although they might have gotten him on his way down). Then he basically kicked Dax in the midsection.

      • there’s no rule against simply “showing studs”; it has to do with whether it’s reckless or dangerous. this was neither.

      • Reckless or Excessive Force, but yeah.

        “Showing studs” is a factor in the decision but not a deciding factor. Unless Espindola catches McCarty in the face, there is literally no risk of injury to McCarty, and Espindola’s boot was never that high.

        That was a heck of a sell job.

    • “Lazy tackles should get punished” but lazy commenting is OK?

      Look: You need excessive force for a sendoff. It wasn’t there. Not even close. It wasn’t even reckless.

  12. Harsh, sure. But not out of nowhere. Espindola goes in studs up (though they don’t connect) dangerously. Ref was behind and saw what he saw. Bad luck for DC maybe, but Olsen acts like the douchiest college basketball coach, so my sympathy is tempered.
    Also: how terrible is Sene? Good god. Rafa-level attack killer.

  13. Geiger pulls a boner call like that at the WC, and he’s sent home–not allowed to ref any more games. Very, very poor decision by the ref and completely changed match. DC’s Espindola was alongside of RB’s McCarthy–not facing him where “studs-showing” would matter. Geiger was nearby, but looked to me like he was more behind McCarthy, vs being alongside where he would have a clear view of the tackle. And without the clear view, a send-off is an even more irresponsible decision.

    Geiger may have done well in WC, but he has a long and dodgy history in MLS of poor decision making and losing control matches.

    • From where Geiger was standing (behind Dax, trailing the play) he saw Dax running and Fab coming at Dax studs up hitting him in the chest/gut.

      From that POV its def a red card.

      I wish they made refs wear button cams.

      • Except he didn’t see that because you can’t put your left foot’s studs into someone’s chest when they approach you from behind/left and your left leg is outstretched. It’s just not possible.

        Geiger f-ed up.

      • No, Espindola f-ed up. Put your cleats in someone’s face and your putting your fate in the hands of the ref, and sometimes refs get it wrong. Geiger got it wrong, but what on earth was Espindola doing?

      • It looked like he was trying to flick the ball.

        Also, the cleats were not near the face. Check the video: the cleats were below the chest and contact, if there was any, was to the stomach.

        Geiger f-d up.

      • Whiskey tango foxtrot does that mean?

        Look: You’ll see what the league thinks of this when they uphold or remove the suspension.

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