Despite having the brunt of the game’s scoring opportunities, the New York Red Bulls were eliminated from MLS Cup Playoffs contention after a 1-0 loss to D.C. United at Red Bull Arena Thursday night in the teams’ Eastern Conference Semifinals second leg.
United, which got a goal from Nick DeLeon in the 88th minute and advanced 2-1 on aggregate, will face the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Final.
Coming off a stellar performance in the first leg, goalkeeper Luis Robles came up big for New York, stopping a Lionard Pajoy shot from close range in the fourth minute. Less than 10 minutes later on the other end, Thierry Henry’s near post free kick was met by Markus Holgersson, who headed it wide right. Then, in the 19th minute, Red Bull Kenny Cooper laid it off on the right side of the box to Dax McCarty and his shot was blocked by goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Hamid again stopped the Red Bulls from scoring in the 28th minute, palming a Henry attempt away. Tim Cahill won the loose ball in the box and it pinged around before New York midfielder Joel Lindpere rolled it just inches past the right post.
Both teams hunted for the game’s first goal after halftime. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Cooper crossed it from the left wing and Henry’s glancing header skipped off the mark. Soon after, Hamid made a diving save, coming off his line to fully extend and deflect a McCarty left-footed strike.
The Red Bulls earned a penalty kick in the 69th minute and went up a man. Henry passed it to McCarty, who strung a well-weighted through ball to Cooper. Cooper touched it around Hamid and was felled by the goalkeeper, earning a free kick, as Hamid was given a red card. Cooper stepped up and converted his first kick, but referee Mark Geiger ruled the Red Bulls entered the box too early. The Red Bulls forward shot again and his attempt was saved by reserve goalkeeper Joe Willis. Minutes later, Red Bulls midfielder Rafa Marquez earned his second yellow card and the hosts were also reduced to 10 men.
United won the game in the 88th minute. Robbie Russell cut towards the center of the field and slid it to DeLeon, who put it near post past Robles.
New York Red Bulls 0, D.C. United 1
Nov. 8, 2012 – Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
MLS Cup Eastern Conference Semifinals Series – Second Leg
D.C. United Advances to Eastern Conference Final 2-1 on Aggregate
DC: Nick DeLeon 1 (Robbie Russell 1) 88’
NY: Rafa Marquez (caution) 61’
DC: Bill Hamid (red card, ejection) 69’
DC: Lionard Pajoy (caution) 71’
NY: Rafa Marquez (second caution, ejection) 75’