Orlando City’s 2-1 loss to D.C. United on Sunday night was mired in a bit of controversy. So much so, that both Head Coach James O’Connor and forward Dom Dwyer voiced their displeasure after the game.
D.C. United’s second goal, a Wayne Rooney free kick, was the one that drew the ire of Orlando City fans and staff alike, for two different fouls: one that was called and one that was not.
The foul leading up to the free kick came from this play, which was called on Dom Dwyer.
The head official, after conferring with his assistant, gave a free kick for the foul. Not because there was contact, but because there was “intent” to commit a foul, which by the letter of the law can be given as a foul. Both Dom Dwyer and Wayne Rooney after the game admitted that there was no actual contact on the play.
“I see him coming and I got out of the way because if I didn’t, it could’ve been a serious injury,” Rooney said after the match. “As the referee said, ‘it’s intent.’ I’m not stupid enough to stand in there and let him try to take my knee off.”
The next bit of controversy was the fact that Rooney took the free kick almost five yards away from where the actual foul was given.
Here is where the foul was committed:
And here is where the free kick was taken:
Then, during the actual free kick, it seemed as if Brian Rowe was fouled in the box as he was reaching for the ball by D.C.’s Fredrick Brillant.
After the goal, referee Armando Villareal checked with VAR official Chico Grajeda, but no official review came of it. This was a call that James O’Connor spoke on at length after the game, saying that the foul was “obvious.”
“It goes to VAR, everybody can see it,” O’Connor said, “For some reason, we don’t. What’s the point in having VAR? He didn’t even go and look at it. Yet, everyone can see that it’s a foul. For us, we’ve had it, since I’ve been here, we’ve had it in game after game.
“Columbus away last year, D.C. in an incident, New York at the start of this year. How many more times? The players go out and give an incredible second-half performance. Absolutely incredible. And yet we come off, and we lose the game again to no fault of our own. How many more times?”
Dom Dwyer added after the game, “I thought maybe having the VAR would help the referee’s, but it seems to be doing the opposite. They’re killing us at the moment.”
Players later went to Twitter to voice their thoughts.
For more up-to-date stories, follow the Soccer Journal on Twitter: @OSJSoccer