Washington, D.C.-There are some matches where supporters can go the entire 90 minutes without seeing one yellow or red card issued. Then there are those matches where yellows and reds are given out like candy on Halloween. Saturday night was a case of the latter as D.C. United and Orlando City S.C. fought, scratched, kicked, clawed and tackled their way through what was for all intents and purposes a playoff elimination match. Despite going down to nine men it would be Orlando that would end up on top, pulling off the 2-1 win.
Cyle Larin (19′) and Giles Barnes (28′) would provide the goals for Orlando. United’s lone goal came courtesy of Kofi Opare in the 89th minute a late effort that gave United (8-16-4, 28 points) some hope but was ultimately not enough to keep their three match winning streak alive. As for Orlando the win pulls them within five points of Atlanta and the sixth and final playoff spot.
It did not come easy though. In the final quarter of the match Orlando would be beset by major bookings. First, in the 70th minute midfielder Servando Carassco was sent off by head official David Gantar for his second offense, a tackle on midfielder Paul Arriola. With United pressing Orlando would have to fend off several enticing efforts from D.C. short a player. Midfielder’s Lloyd Sam’s cross into center-back Steve Birnbaum would be their best opportunity, an effort that would go wide left in the 84th minute.
United would get one back with the two-man advantage after Opare would knock home his second goal of the season. With a goal only separating the two sides and both teams desperately needing points to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, tensions would start to boil over.
Orlando would be dealt another blow in stoppage time when defender Seb Hines would be involved in an altercation with Sam. Hines pushing Sam to the ground would be enough for the defender to be sent off with Sam receiving only a warning. Nine cards were issued during the match, a sign of how physical the match truly was.
“I couldn’t see anything,” said Orlando City SC coach Jason Kreis on Hines being sent off. “I did see him push the opponent down, but I figured there had to be some sort of altercation happening to force Seb [Hines] to do that because Seb’s a very smart player and he wouldn’t just do that out of the blue.”
Before play could resume the two sides would then engage in a war of words before match officials could regain control of the match. A yellow card by Kaka for time wasting would force the match to go well past the injury time allotted and late into the evening in the nation’s capital.
“It was crazy,” said Birnbaum. “I kept going up to the ref asking for more and more time because they were giving cards out and you don’t know how much time is left on the clock, so it was a weird situation.”
United will travel to Chicago to take on the Fire on Saturday (8pm EST, MLS Live). As for Orlando they will get their chance to close the gap on Atlanta (Saturday 4pm EST, Univision) when they continue their road trip at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
D.C. United- Bill Hamid, Sean Franklin, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Nick DeLeon, Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Russell Canouse, Marcelo Sarvas, Zoltan Stieber (Lloyd Sam 67′), Patrick Mullins (Deshorn Brown 62′)
Yellow Cards- Acosta (24′), Arriola (33′), Franklin (78′) and Sam (90’+6′)
Orlando City SC- Joseph Bendik, Scott Sutter, Seb Hines, Tommy Redding, Donny Toia, Yoshimar Yotun (Kaka 77′), Cristian Higuita (Servando Carrasco 49′), Antonio Nocerino, Giles Barnes, Dom Dwyer (Dillon Powers 82′), and Cyle Larin.
Goals-Larin (19′) and Barnes (29′)
Yellow Cards-Sutter (32′) Carrasco (76′) and Kaka (90’+9′)
Red Cards-Carrasco (79′) and Hines (90’+5′)
Golden Raccoon: David Gantar’s pen. It got a really good workout in during this match.