A 62nd minute penalty by Chris Pontius ensured that D.C. United would extend their unbeaten streak to three games as they came back to draw the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids 1-1 Saturday night at RFK Stadium. However, neither side will be happy with the outcome, thanks in large part to the refereeing performance by Terry Vaughn.
Already off Ben Olsen's Christmas card list for his failure to send off Colorado goalscorer Drew Moor in the first half, Vaughn ended any hope that he would exit the field unnoticed by not giving United a spot kick in the 56th minute when Joseph Ngwenya appeared to have been shoved over in the box by Jeff Larentowicz. Replays showed that there was much less contact than there appeared to be in real time, but softer penalties have certainly been given.
Vaughn atoned for his mistake, at least in the eyes of D.C. United fans, by completely botching the penalty decision that resulted in Pontius' equalizer. The United man initiated the contact on the left edge of the area with a shoulder barge of Kosuke Kimura before both men stumbled to the ground inside the box. Vaughn showed no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot, but that did not make Colorado's protests any less vociferous or righteous.
Colorado's introduction of Conor Casey in the 68th minute did little to change the outcome as United looked the better side in the final twenty minutes and pressed in vain for a winner.