Dwayne De Rosario had a penalty kick saved, D.C. United’s defense failed on multiple occasions, and the New York Red Bulls held on for a 2-1 win over United Saturday night before 17,372 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. United fell to 3-18-5 (14 points on the season) while New York improved to 12-9-6 (42 points). The Red Bulls are in a 3-way tie for first place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference with Montreal and Sporting Kansas City.
United did get a goal from Nick DeLeon, his first of the season, but down 2-1 in the second half, it was a New York foul that became the fateful moment in the match.
Alone on the attack in the penalty area, De Rosario tried to maneuver around New York defender Ibrahim Sekagya, just in front of Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles. As De Rosario turned around Sekagya and started to shoot, Sekagya tackled De Rosario from behind and was sent off by referee Juan Guzman as De Rosario’s shot rolled wide.
Unfortunately for United, Robles read De Rosario’s penalty correctly, diving to his right and saving the PK, which wasn’t struck to the corner or side netting, leaving it ripe to be saved. United couldn’t capitalize on the rebound, and were left with just the man advantage for the final 18 minutes of the match, rather than being level on the scoreboard.
United’s last best chance to salvage a point on the night also fell to De Rosario in the 88th minute. But played in from a cross for an open header, he sent the ball well high and failed to force Robles to add to his total of three saves for the night.
One final would-be opportunity fizzled when Chris Korb’s cross from the right was well off target and went out for a goal kick. On the defensive end, Dejan Jakovic and Daniel Woolard made key shot blocks to keep the Red Bulls from expanding their lead, keeping United in the match at least until the final whistle.
But the night wasn’t all good for United’s center back tandem, and that showed on New York’s two first-half goals.
A comedy of errors led to the first New York goal, as New York forward Bradley Wright-Phillips beat the sliding Woolard to a ball and raced up the right flank. As he entered the penalty area, he tried to center for Tim Cahill. But before Cahill could get to it, he was cleaned out by Jakovic, which could have been a penalty, but wasn’t called.
New York midfielder Lloyd Sam chased down the ball on the right side and chipped it to United goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s far post. Hamid was at the near post, and as he backtracked, the ball bounced off the post behind him and then off Hamid to cross the line for the opening goal. James Riley was closest to marking Sam, but couldn’t prevent the chip.
Given the rarity of road goals in league play for United, some might have thought that was the game. But DC was resilient and leveled the match in the 36th minute as DeLeon scored his first goal of the season. It came courtesy a beautiful cross by De Rosario from the left attacking side. DeLeon, to the left of Robles, collected and with one quick touch, lost would-be defender David Carney, who promptly fell over.
DeLeon then slipped a shot past Robles to even the match at 1-1, a position United gladly would have taken into halftime against its arch-rival away from home.
But with 9 minutes left until halftime, United’s defense failed to even keep United level for more than 120 seconds.
With the ball deep on the attacking left side, New York midfielder Jonathan Steele completely turned around Jakovic, who failed to mark him closely enough and then lost sight of him. This gave Steele enough time and space to cross the ball for Cahill in the middle of the United penalty area. There, Cahill leaped over Woolard, who was right with Cahill but didn’t react quickly enough, and headed the ball strongly past Hamid to give New York the lead again in the 38th minute.
United had one other notable chance in the 27th minute, but open for a shot from about 17 yards out in the middle, midfielder Lewis Neal fired low and wide to Robles’ left.
United’s regular season continues next Sunday with a 9 p.m. Eastern kickoff at Chivas USA, as D.C. gets one month of league games to prep for the October 1 U.S. Open Cup final at Real Salt Lake.
NOTES: In other action tonight, Sporting Kansas City defeated Colorado, 2-1; Seattle beat Columbus, 1-0; and Philadelphia and Montreal played to a scoreless draw. … With tonight’s victory, New York wins the 2013 Atlantic Cup, the trophy representing the series between the two teams. New York went 2-0-1 vs. United this season, outscoring D.C., 4-1. … A win by Houston tomorrow over Chicago would eliminate United from playoff contention with 8 games remaining. … Both teams had to make injury substitutions in the first half. United lost midfielder Jared Jeffrey in the 18th minute with what the club later announced was a sprained right ankle, as he was replaced by John Thorrington. New York defender and former United man Brandon Barklage left in the 33rd minute, replaced by Kosuke Kimura.
NEW YORK 2-1 UNITED
Sam 8′ (Cahill)
DeLeon 36′ (De Rosario)
Cahill 38′ (Steele)
NY – Steele, yellow, 61′
DC – Neal, yellow, 62′
NY – Sekagya, red, 72′
NY – Henry, yellow, 77′
DC – Silva, yellow, 80′
Shots: NY 15-13 DC
Shots On Goal: NY 3-4 DC
Corners: NY 0-4 DC
Fouls: NY 15-10 DC
Offside: NY 0-3 DC
Possession: NY 45.9%-54.1% DC
UNITED (3-18-5): Hamid; Jakovic, Woolard, Korb, Riley; DeLeon (Martin 81′), Jeffrey (Thorrington 19′), Kitchen, Neal (Doyle 68′); Silva, De Rosario.
NEW YORK (12-9-6): Robles; Carney, Sekagya, Barklage (Kimura 34′), Holgersson; Sam, Alexander, McCarty, Steele; Cahill (Henry 59′), Wright-Phillips (Olave 77′).
Ed Morgans is the United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.