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Columbus Crew SC Appeal Harrison Afful’s Red Card

The Black & Gold believe the sending off should be rescinded.

Things were going well for Columbus Crew SC on Saturday. The Black & Gold were up 1-0 on D.C. United at home and were on the attack in the 74th minute. Justin Meram lost the ball in his attacking third resulting in a 50/50 ball between Crew SC defender Harrison Afful and United midfielder Marcelo Sarvas.

Afful went to ground to win the ball, popped back up to keep playing and was promptly issued a straight red card by referee Silviu Petrescu.

The fullback, who registered the primary assist on his side’s goal, and his teammates were amazed at the straight red. Afful said he initially thought the card would be for the D.C. player, who stepped on the Ghanaian as he slid, but it was ultimately not. Midfielder Wil Trapp admitted after the game that the call, where Afful exposed his cleats and went through the ball, could go either way and has been given as a red fairly consistently in MLS play.

After the match, head coach Gregg Berhalter did not want to comment on the play and the referees were rather short with their comments as well.

When asked why Afful was issued a red card, Petrescu responded to the pool reporter "serious foul play" and said he had not reviewed the incident. On Monday morning, Berhalter was willing to discuss the tackle and confirmed Crew SC were appealing the red card.

"We’ve officially submitted an appeal and we’ll wait," he said. "I think we have a good argument so we’ll see. We’re talking about serious foul play and ‘You need to use excessive force’ and we’re saying, can you categorize that as excessive force? Excessive force is defined as enough force to create an injury. I just have a hard time seeing that."

It would be hard to argue that Afful could do much to create an injury to Sarvas on the tackle, considering his right foot went through the ball and does not appear to make any contact with the D.C. player.

What is clear is Sarvas reaction, as he certainly stomps on Afful and leaves his foot on his upper leg far too long for it to be an accident. Berhalter wanted this pointed out to the league as well.

"That’s the other part of the argument which I don’t think is relevant in Harrison’s role in the play, but that’s certainly a red card," the head coach said of Sarvas’ reaction. "Certainly, I think. In my opinion you can easily give a red for that."

Petrescu said following the match that he "did not witness Sarvas step on Afful," but he had not looked at the replay.

As for what it meant in the match, United brought on offensive players and pushed numbers forward before finding the equalizer the club was looking for against the 10-man Black & Gold in the 89th minute.

Afful continues to be a big part of what Columbus does and missing him for more than the final 15 minutes of that match could be a big loss for Crew SC against Orlando City SC. Berhalter knows this and will wait to hear back from the league.

"He’s in form," he said of Afful. "He’s been doing really well these last games in terms of his crossing, his offensive production, his defensive work, I think he’s been solid. So it would be a blow, but that’s why we have a guy like Hector [Jimenez] and a guy like Chad Barson who can step in and do a role."

All is well that ends well and MLS announced on Monday that the card would be rescinded and Afful is eligible to play next Saturday. Now if only Crew SC could get those last 15 minutes of last Saturday's match back.