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Late Rolfe penalty helps D.C. United edge Union

Chris Rolfe DC United Union (USA TODAY Sports)


WASHINGTON— A late penalty kick goal by Chris Rolfe gave D.C. United revenge over their I-95 rivals in the form of a 2-1 win Saturday night at RFK Stadium.

Sebastien Le Toux’s early goal was canceled out at the stroke of halftime by a powerful header by Chris Pontius, before Rolfe’s winner late in the second half.

The win keeps D.C. United on top of the East, while the Union will have to look to their next game to regain their lost momentum.

The Union opened the game strongly with a goal in the 5th minute from Sebastien Le Toux. Inability to clear by Steve Birnbaum led to Andrew Wenger with the ball in front of Bill Hamid’s goal. After a quick fake shot, Wenger laid it off to Le Toux, who easily scored.

Despite having the majority of possession in the first half, D.C. United once again missed Fabian Espindola, who is still out with an injury. It looked like the Union would have an advantage at halftime, but D.C. United leveled just before the break when Taylor Kemp’s fantastic cross from the wing was headed home by Chris Pontius.

Although D.C. United was again missing playmakers Luis Silva and Espindola, Ben Olsen started a lineup of regulars, a far cry from Wednesday night’s loss in Portland. Andrew Wenger got another start in front of CJ Sapong, and his first half shot off the crossbar could have made it a very different game.

As the game looked set to end in a draw, an innocuous cross high into the box struck the outstretched arm of Pfeffer. After a controversial no-call in the first half, Referee Ted Unkel pointed to the spot, where Chris Rolfe easily beat Brian Sylvestre for the win.

Both teams have midweek games on Wednesday, when the Union will host the Columbus Crew, while D.C. United will welcome the Chicago Fire to RFK.


  1. If Rolfe gets suspended, jermaine jones should be out for 10 games for his nonsense last week, but he’s not going anywhere, is he?

  2. The ref missed quite a few calls. double take-down of Arnaud was egregious and got no call at all, much less a card. I’d have to see Pontius’s take down again. I thought yellow was correct there since there were lots of players nearby.
    I was surprised (upon replay) that Rolfe didn’t get anything, but in real time it was really hard to see the intent. I think he’ll rightfully get a suspension and miss the game against his old team. DC can hardly afford to lose him with the depleted roster. Philly got away with quite a few yellow-worthy cynical tackles as well. It was one of the worse games I’ve seen reffed in MLS this year, although he made enough mistakes both ways.

  3. The handball was legit enough and Philly is a side that cannot afford to ply with those kinds or mental errors (just like the goal that was given up in extra time in the first half was as much a lapse of pressure by the team), but there were two clear carding incidents in that match that should have seen DC go to 10 men. Hard to not feel robbed of at least 2 points here.

    And poor Wenger on hitting the crossbar on a beautiful look on goal. In the words of the prisoner in the first Pirates of the Carribbean movie, “My sympathies, friend. You’ve no manner of luck at all.”

    • You forgot the double foul on arnaud in the box in the first half. Probably not a dogso but certainly a penalty. All in all, the refs had an awful game (I don’t blame them for the Rolfe incident, it’s hard to see on tape, but Pontius probably should have seen red, yes)

  4. No mention of Chris Rolfes kick out at, I believe, Noguiera after being fouled early in the second half that should have been a clear red card?

    • That’s a judgment issue for the ref. Noguiera fouled Rolfe immediately before. Some referees would call both fouls. Others wouldn’t b/c they’d conclude that gives a “win” to Noguiera for inciting a foul. In any case, if it’s such a clear red card as you maintain, then Rolfe will get fined and suspended by the MLS disciplinary committee which exists for just this purpose–to take care of personal or dangerous fouls that either weren’t called in matches or require additional penalties (suspension, fine, etc.).


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