In a season of heartbreak for D.C. United, last night's U.S. Open Cup semifinal loss to the Columbus Crew may have been the lowest moment of the season. D.C. United clung to a 1-0 lead all the way into the 89th minute, but a late Crew goal on a scramble in front of the net tied the game and sent it into overtime. Eight minutes later, a penalty kick by Guillermo Barros Schelotto completed the comeback, sending D.C. United into the locker room wondering how it all went wrong.
The eulogies were easy to write. D.C. United coach Ben Olsen reacted with comments that Washington Post writer Steven Goff described as being "barely audible." SB Nation's D.C. United blog Black and Red United's headline on their game recap included the phrase "lose all hope for redemption." Finally, the tweets here from fans and others are not for the faint of heart.
But while most people were sad, D.C. United team president Kevin Payne was mad. Why? He wasn't thrilled, to say the least, that Pablo Hernandez was given a straight red card in the 58th minute for tripping Danny O'Rourke.
Here's video of the incident (fast forward to the :19 mark).
That doesn't show the whole exchange, though. After Hernandez tripped O'Rourke, O'Rourke got up and started berating Hernandez, getting in his face. Hernandez sort of took a swing at O'Rourke, but not really.
In the end, Hernandez got the red card and O'Rourke got nothing more than a warning. There's no defending Hernandez's actions here, but is that really fair? Shouldn't O'Rourke have at least received some sort of reprimand for kneeing Hernandez in the chest and then coming back to shout at him? Why not do as Goff suggested and give both players yellow cards? That would seem fairer, considering both teams were involved in the tussle.
Of course, Payne's probably wasting his energy getting all worked up about that play. It didn't cost D.C. United the game, as they held off Columbus for most of the second half despite being down a man. But in a season that has been so dreadful, even those at the top need something to vent about. If Payne wants to vent about this play, he should be able to do so.