An independent review panel rescinded the red card given to Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza on Saturday in Philadelphia.
Espinoza will no longer have to serve a one-game suspension when Sporting KC plays host to the Houston Dynamo on Sept. 9.
During Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Talen Energy Stadium, referee Juan Guzman ejected Espinoza in the 87th minute. While dribbling the ball out of the penalty area, Espinoza used his arm to shield Philadelphia midfielder Roland Alberg. After his arm made contact with Alberg’s chest, Alberg flopped backward, and Guzman removed the red card from his back pocket.
TV cameras later caught Alberg winking to a teammate.
Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said immediately after the play he planned to appeal the call.
“When I watched it live, from where I stood, which is probably 60 yards away, I could not understand how you would even call (that),” Vermes said Wednesday after practice. “Roger has possession of the ball, makes a move with it and is shielding the ball from the player coming toward him and the guy runs into him. If anything, it’s a foul on the other player. The fact that it turned into a straight red — I knew right then and there we were going to challenge it.”
The overturn requires a unanimous decision from the panel, which consists of one representative each from the U.S. Soccer Federation, the Canadian Soccer Association and the Professional Referees Organization.
On Saturday, Sporting KC finished the match with nine men. Guzman also ejected Sporting KC defender Jimmy Medranda with a pair of yellow cards, one in each half.
Espinoza, who serves as the captain for Sporting KC, was shown a yellow card in the first half for arguing Medranda’s first yellow card with Guzman. But the call in the 87th minute was a straight red card rather than a second yellow, an important distinction that perhaps supplied more credibility to Sporting Kansas City’s appeal.
“If I have the ball and I’m moving the ball and you’re running through me to get to the ball, you’re not in the right,” Vermes said. “If you ran into a brick wall, that’s your problem.”