Controversy swirls over no-call in first leg of DCU-HOU

picture_4.png

Controversy swirls over no-call in first leg of DCU-HOU

NBC's announcers couldn't believe what they saw, then didn't see just before the half Sunday night as the Black and Red began the first leg of their Eastern Conference Championship series in Houston.

Up 1-0 with seconds left before halftime, United forward Raphael Augusto charged to the net after flicking a ball over Dynamo defender Andre Hainault and midfielder Calen Carr. Augusto's opportunity was quickly cut short, however, when Hainault came shoulder to shoulder and hooked arms with the DCU rookie before falling to the ground.  On the way down, Hainault wrapped his legs around Augusto's for good measure and the two took a tumble that allowed goalkeeper Tally Hall to collect the ball safely.  

No whistle came from referee Ricardo Salazar.

"100 out of 100 times that's a red card," said NBC analyst Kyle Martino during the halftime broadcast.  

"Everybody in the stadium, everybody on our bench, everybody on their bench, everybody at home saw that it's a red card," said DCU head coach Ben Olsen. "It's a take down, it's a red card."

Houston would go on to score three unanswered goals in the second half, placing DCU in a two goal deficit heading into Game 2.  
 
"It should be a red card," United captain Chris Pontius echoed to reporters after the match. "We should be up a man with a free kick at the top of the 18. I don't understand how that's not a red card. That changes everything."

Salazar, however saw things differently.

"Based on my angle there was contact by both players and therefore, no offense was identified," Salazar said in an interview Sunday night.  The head referee went on to explain that he would not have issued a red card because of the other defensive players in the area who nullified a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

Also on hand Sunday night and weighing in on the issue for MLSsoccer.com, general manager of the professional Referees Organization Peter Walton.

"From the angle I saw in the stadium I thought it was a foul," said Walton. "I would've expected a yellow card. Looking at it in real time, I thought the tracking defender [Houston's Luiz Camargo] could have influenced the outcome of that particular play and the benefit of the doubt would go to the defending team in a situation of a denial of a goal scoring opportunity."

Check out the replay below and tell us what you think. Should there have been a whistle? Red card? Would it have changed the game as Pontius said?   

With Heather O'Reilly set to retire, USWNT teammates honor all-time great

With Heather O'Reilly set to retire, USWNT teammates honor all-time great

As U.S. Women’s Soccer star Heather O’Reilly steps into international retirement Thursday night, her soon-to-be former teammates are jumping at the chance to honor O’Reilly one last time.

"She’s the best teammate I ever had,” said Ali Krieger, who has played alongside O’Reilly on the USWNT since 2008. “She’s such an inspiration for so many young athletes, but also for us – her current teammates and the players in the National Women’s Soccer League. She’s been a legend.”

O’Reilly will end her 15-year international career when the U.S. Women face Thailand in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday night.

“She’s motivated me and I know my teammates to want to better themselves every single day,” Krieger said of O’Reilly’s legacy on the national team. “That is something that she can leave us. I’m so happy for her, I’m really proud of her and she continued to inspire me every single day. I wish her all the best and I’m going to miss her like crazy.”

Of all O’Reilly’s teammates, few can appreciate the retiring legend quite like Krieger. The two often featured together on the right side of the U.S. formation, Krieger in defense and O’Reilly just ahead of her in midfield, resulting in a bond that will last beyond their playing days.

“We always say ‘right side – strong side’, so we’re going to hold on to that forever,” Krieger said with a smile. “She’s one of my best friends on the team and I support her decision.”

O’Reilly’s decision was likely made easier by the changing landscape of the national team. After seeing her minutes dwindle during last summer’s successful World Cup run, the 31-year-old veteran was left off the U.S. Olympic Team in August instead traveling to Brazil as an alternate.

Despite that, O’Reilly’s career compares favorably to pretty much every other U.S. international. O'Reilly made her senior international debut while still in high school, and her 230 appearances rank seventh all-time in U.S. Women’s National Team history. 

“It’s so much more than the player that she is and what she’s done for the national team,” said U.S. Women’s National Team forward Crystal Dunn. “It’s her – the person – that I’m going to miss seeing in camps and chatting it up.”

Though they didn’t overlap in Chapel Hill, both Dunn and O’Reilly played collegiately for North Carolina. Thanks to that Tar Heel connection, the duo trained together frequently even when not with the U.S. team.

“She was just one of those people that I looked up to,” Dunn added. “She would kick my butt every single day and I was so in awe that she would go out of her way to help make me better."

MORE SOCCER: STL: 'Tyrant'-like act by Spirit to stifle Rapinoe protest

Spirit players speak out against owner shutting down Rapinoe's protest

Spirit players speak out against owner shutting down Rapinoe's protest

Two days after the Washington Spirit organization changed the timing of their pregame routine in order to preempt Megan Rapinoe’s national anthem protest, Spirit players are speaking out against the team’s decision.

"We respect our owner’s freedom to share his views and we understand his intentions,” read a statement posted on the Spirit website. “But as a team we don’t necessarily agree with those opinions or the actions taken Wednesday evening.” 

The statement - signed ‘all of the players of the Washington Spirit’ - was also posted to Spirit captain, and longtime U.S. Women’s National Team star, Ali Krieger’s personal website. 

“As a team, we were disappointed we were not informed of the plans for the national anthem or given an opportunity to weigh in on the decision,” the statement continued.

The Washington Spirit and Rapinoe’s Seattle Reign FC were still in the locker rooms when the national anthem was played ahead of schedule at Wednesday’s National Women’s Soccer League match between the two teams. 

In an exclusive interview Tuesday afternoon, Rapinoe told CSN that she planned to kneel during the national anthem prior to Wednesday's game - as she did before Sunday's NWSL contest between Seattle and the Chicago Red Stars.