Wayne Rooney was sent off in D.C. United's 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night, continuing what has been a tumultuous week for the England legend.
Just days after he was involved in a furious altercation with the fourth official in DCU's 1-0 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps, Derby-bound Rooney was given a red card the 24th minute following a video review that determined he had hit NYRB's Michael Murillo with his forearm.
"Anyone who knows the game of football can see what the intent was," Rooney said postmatch. "It was to try to ease the player out. And referee saw it as a red card, and so I'm very disappointed."
Both teams would end up finishing the game with 10 men, with Red Bulls defender Amro Tarek also dismissed before half-time by referee Ismail Elfath, who also came under fire from the D.C. crowd for his decision to award the Red Bulls' penalty.
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"We need to refocus," Rooney added. "Obviously three tough away games coming up, and we need some points from them games. I think if the lads show what they showed today with 10 men, we'll be OK.
Ola Kamara scored his first goal for D.C. in his first start since signing with the team before the close of the secondary transfer window earlier this month. But his new teammate Lucas Rodriguez erred on both Red Bulls goals in a game that saw the teams swap places in the MLS standings. The Red Bulls (12-10-5, 41 points) now sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, a place ahead of D.C (10-9-9, 39 points).
After trailing most of the match, Kamara put D.C. level in the 55th minute with a memorable first goal for his new team. After taking a pass from Joseph Mora near the edge of the penalty area, Kamara took a touch to his right, then curled a long-range effort that arced around Luis Robles dive and into the top corner.
The lead lasted only four minutes. Kaku played a ball from the right flank into Murillo's run into the penalty area, and Murillo went down as though clipped by the trailing Rodriguez, and Elfath pointed to the spot.
D.C.'s players protested and the Audi Field crowd roared with chants of "V-A-R" seeking a video review, but none was coming, and Daniel Royer converted the spot kick to put the visitors back in front.
Kaku gave the Red Bulls the early lead in the sixth minute when he took advantage of Rodriguez's failure to immediately clear away Marc Rzatkowski's cross and drove his finish between Bill Hamid and the near post from about 10 yards out.
"For a lot of the games we've struggled to score goals or create the chances we want. So that's something we need to try and improve rapidly going into this last run of games. it's been frustrating for us all," Rooney said. "We're in a tough spot at the moment in terms of, it's tight now for the playoffs, very tight."