CHESTER, Pa. -- Without hesitation, referee Allen Chapman changed Sunday’s match.
“It killed our game,” Union captain Haris Medunjanin admitted.
Looking to put out a New York Red Bulls fast break caused by a turnover in the 53rd minute at Talen Energy Stadium, rookie midfielder Derrick Jones sliced in on Felipe with the intention of separating the ball from the player.
The attempt led to a screaming Felipe crashing to the grass.
“Derrick has to leave his feet for the tackle,” said Union manager Jim Curtin, whose club has lost three straight games (see game story). “Derrick does tackle over the ball, but he doesn’t really touch Felipe. You can get into all kinds of different arguments on the call, but obviously, red cards change games.”
And it changed Sunday’s game in a big way. Chapman immediately whipped out the straight red card for what was deemed violent conduct, ejecting Jones, who was unavailable for comment after the game.
“You would like to see the referee maybe pause, take a deep breath and think about it,” Curtin said. “Not just be so quick to show the red.”
Despite tilting the field against the Red Bulls in the first half, the Union were forced on their heels in the second as a result of the call. And with the temperature exceeding 90 degrees on the field, it was a bad mix for a Union team looking for points.
As a result, Bradley Wright-Phillips eventually wore the Union defense down, scoring twice in the 87th and again in stoppage time for the 2-0 victory.
“When you play with 10 men against Red Bull, it’s always difficult,” Medunjanin said. “We kept defending until they scored the goal and after that, it was difficult to come back.”
Union defender Jack Elliott felt the same.
“It’s a hot day and the sending off really hurt us,” he said. “We were keeping the ball well in the first half and created a few chances. Even with 10 men, we could’ve nicked a goal but in the end, the heat really got to us with 10 men.”
Because of how the call dramatically changed the match, Medunjanin spoke clearly about what he saw. He was one of the few Union players who admitted to watching a replay of the red card.
“I just saw it and I don’t think it’s a red card,” he said. “Jonesy went for the ball and with a player like Felipe who likes to jump, I think everybody saw it was not a red card. It was the first card in the game and he gave directly a red card. It was not even on the leg. He went for the ball and I don’t think he even touched him.”