D.C. United couldn’t take advantage of Audi Field at the second time of asking, as the Black-and-Red fell 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 100th league goal in the 2nd minute of the game, and United could never find an equalizer, despite a bevy of chances in the second half.
Wednesday’s game marked the first time the two rivals met in this year’s Atlantic Cup, with both teams set to host one more game. But after a rousing success in their Audi Field opener 10 days ago, United could not duplicate the success against their hated rivals.
Head Coach Ben Olsen made one change to the starting lineup that lost 3-1 to Atlanta United on Saturday. Wayne Rooney went back to the bench, with another game on the weekend to worry about, while Darren Mattocks got the nod up top. Ulises Segura was also on the bench, his first appearance since May 12th.
The Red Bulls wasted no time in acquainting themselves to United’s new digs, as Wright-Phillips netted in the second minute for his 100th league goal in MLS. Latching onto a pass from Kaku in the box, BWP cut back towards the middle against Frederic Brillant, and then fired a shot between the defender’s legs. David Ousted got a touch to the shot, but couldn’t do enough to keep it out.
It was nearly two for New York in the 5th minute, as a punch from Ousted on a corner kick did not clear the ball away. His attempted clearance fell right to Tim Parker in front of goal, who redirected a shot on target. Ousted was able to scramble back into position, and pushed Parker’s attempt away.
Proceedings favored New York for most of the first half, and Wright-Phillips could have had his second in the 18th minute. Right back Michael Murillo got into the box, and near the end line, before clipping a pass in front of goal. The Red Bulls’ striker got a touch goalwards, but his effort sailed over the bar.
Despite being outplayed for most of the first half, United had an equalizer in the 28th minute, as Paul Arriola steered home a pass from Zoltan Stieber. But as United celebrated a goal against the run of play, referee Armando Villarreal took a quick look at the replay, which showed that Arriola was offside on the pass.
Three minutes later, Derrick Etienne missed a great chance to double New York’s lead. A hopeful ball from Parker at midfield bamboozled United’s back line, and Etienne latched onto the ball in the box. Etienne just had to push the ball around Ousted, but managed to fire wide as Ousted rushed off his line.
Kaku’s give and go in the 40th minute ended in a blocked shot just in front of Ousted, and Wright-Phillips sent a shot into the side netting in the 43rd minute, as he raced onto a Tyler Adams cross at the near post.
Neither side made a change to their lineup to start the second half, but the period of Red Bull dominance seemed to wane over the halftime break. In the 54th minute, United appealed for a hand ball in the box, but instead were awarded a corner kick. Steven Birnbaum won a header from Stieber’s corner, but Luis Robles made the save, though he bobbled the ball to cause a moment of panic in front of the goal.
Luciano Acosta and Wright-Phillips exchanged chances in the 59th minute, but neither could capitalize on their opportunity. Acosta’s came from a quick restart on a free kick, and he flipped the ball over Robles, but Aaron Long was on hand to clear the ball away from the goal line. Seconds later, Wright-Phillips was alone in space in front of United’s goal, but an excellent kick save from Ousted denied the Red Bulls.
Olsen brought on Rooney in the 58th minute, and the English striker was adamant that he had won a penalty in the 66th minute. Chris Durkin’s ball over the top found Rooney in behind, and once in the box, it appeared that he and Parker tangled up. United were demonstrative in their protests, but Villarreal instead waved on.
An opportunity for Rooney’s first goal came about in the 79th minute, as Acosta was played down the wing, and picked out an open Rooney near the top of the box. However, a timely intervention from Kemar Lawrence denied Rooney an opportunity to shoot, and as quickly as the chance had come about, it was gone.
United poured on the pressure late, and created several chances for an equalizer in the last ten minutes. Yamil Asad couldn’t pull the trigger quick enough in the box in the 83rd minute, and had a shot blocked out for a corner by Long. In the 87th minute, Rooney picked out Asad in the box, but the one-timed shot was saved comfortably by Robles.
A long ball into the box found Arriola in the 89th minute in a good position. But as he had to turn around to corral the ball, Arriola played backwards to Rooney. Rooney had an opening, but saw his effort blocked away for a throw-in, and the chance quickly dissipated.
United, with 14 points from 17 games, are back at home again this weekend, as they host the Colorado Rapids.