D.C. United red card rescinded after Union player admits he wasn't kicked

Philadelphia midfielder Haris Medunjanin admitted he talked the referee into rescinding a red card shown D.C. United's Luciano Acosta for a foul on the Union player on Saturday night.

Acosta fouled Medunjanin while battling for the ball near the sideline, and referee Sorin Stoica showed the D.C. player a red card after believing that he had reached out to kick Medunjanin.

But moments later, Stoica returned to Acosta and told him he could remain on the pitch, taking away the red card in an unusual moment.

It was not immediately clear why Stoica had changed his mind, but the referee told a pool reporter after the game that input from Medunjanin played the key role in altering the decision.

"I rescinded the card because [Medunjanin] stated that he was not kicked after the play, which was the initial decision I made," Stoica said.

The Union still managed to win 1-0, and Medunjanin told reporters after the game that he told the truth to the referee after first speaking to Acosta.

"I saw the red card and spoke with Acosta and he was saying that he didn't kick me," he said. "I said I didn't feel it also. I went to the referee and he said, 'Did he kick you?' and I said, 'No he didn't kick me, I think it was just a push.' That's why it was no red card for me."

He added: "Everybody said thanks for the fair play. Nice gesture of you and that's it. The coach came over to speak with me and I said, 'No problem this is football. We fight for the three points, but we need to be honest.'"

Medunjanin also used the opportunity to criticise New York Red Bulls player Felipe, who got the Union's Derrick Jones sent off in a controversial decision a week earlier.

"I hope Felipe was watching from last week," Medunjanin said. "I wish he could say the same. I think you need to be honest and I felt like it was just a push."

D.C. coach Ben Olsen called Medunjanin a "classy player and classy human being," while Union boss Jim Curtin also praised Medunjanin for his honourable act.

"It's not a red card, and I have to give a lot of credit to Haris," Curtin said. "He's a person that I respect a great deal. It's an incredible act. I think it's something you could show to not just young kids but also a lot of the adults that play in professional soccer because what he did is very honorable. It's the right thing to do."

However, Medunjanin did say that the fact the Union had the lead may have contributed to his honesty.

"Maybe if it was a draw, it would've been a little different," he said.