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Determined D.C. United battles to 1-0 Atlantic Cup win over New York Red Bulls

Kevin Paredes scored what might be the most important goal of United’s 2021 season as the Black-and-Red held on for a crucial victory

MLS: New York Red Bulls at D.C. United Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Facing a virtual must-win, D.C. United showed some old-school grit in a 1-0 home win over the New York Red Bulls. Kevin Paredes’ third goal of the season gave United an early lead, and they made that stand up despite enduring significant pressure from the visitors. The victory, which clinched the 2021 Atlantic Cup, ended a spell that saw United pick up just one point from four games while also ending a seven-game unbeaten run for their oldest rival.

Hernán Losada was able to pull a bit of a surprise, as Paul Arriola and Andy Najar — both said to be out in the build-up to the game — were available from the start as the only two changes to the side that lost badly at NYCFC on the weekend.

United put the poor outing at Yankee Stadium behind them quickly, getting out to a positive start that they capped off with a 9th minute goal. The Black-and-Red broke out of midfield to the right, with Nigel Robertha finding a seam and getting into the box. From there, Robertha crossed low, only for Ola Kamara to arrive to the spot one step too early. The chance appeared to be gone, only for Kevin Paredes to sprint in at the back post and crush a nine-yard shot past a helpless Carlos Coronel. Paredes would end up departing before halftime with what appeared to be a hip injury.

The good start was vital as United struggled to get to halftime with the lead. Najar made a crucial block on Patryk Klimala in the 17th minute, while a 24th minute chance required both a top save from Bill Hamid and a follow-up block in front of an empty net from Donovan Pines to deny Fábio. Later, Hamid produced a difficult kick-save on Fábio in the 42nd minute, and United were fortunate that a rebound seconds later was poked wide by Cristian Cásseres Jr.

United started the second half off with better play, as Robertha and Pines both tested Coronel within three minutes of play resuming. Robertha then fizzed a 49th minute shot just wide. At the other end, Patryk Klimala — in alone after a Sean Davis long ball caught United out — fired wide, while Hamid made another impressive save to deny Andrew Gutman in the 59th minute.

United got a welcome boost in the late stages, with Brendan Hines-Ike returning after missing nearly three months out after a mid-season hip injury. He proved an important sub as the Black-and-Red, showing fatigue after a battle of a game and a heavy schedule, were unable to keep the ball for long spells, resulting in waves of Red Bull pressure.

However, despite the amount of time spent fending off crosses, United hung on, picking up an absolutely crucial win. While other games around MLS tonight make it unclear exactly how far United (13W-5D-14L, 44 points) climbed with the victory, they will finish the night in a playoff spot by virtue of leapfrogging the Red Bulls and CF Montréal.

United finishes a grueling spell featuring five games in two weeks this Saturday, October 30, as they host the Columbus Crew on Buzzard Point. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm.

Box Score

MLS Regular Season - Game 32
D.C. United 1 (Paredes 9)
New York Red Bulls 0

DCU (3412): Bill Hamid; Andy Najar (Chris Odoi-Atsem 65), Steven Birnbaum (C), Donovan Pines; Julian Gressel (Brendan Hines-Ike 77), Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Kevin Paredes (Joseph Mora 38); Paul Arriola (Drew Skundrich 46); Nigel Robertha (Ramón Ábila 77), Ola Kamara

NYRB (5221): Carlos Coronel; Kyle Duncan, Tom Edwards (Tom Barlow 77), Sean Nealis, Andrés Reyes (Lucas Monzón 68), Andrew Gutman; Dru Yearwood (Youba Diarra 68), Sean Davis (C); Cristian Cásseres Jr., Fábio (Wikelman Carmona 58); Patryk Klimala (Daniel Royer 68)

DCU - Moreno 37
NYRB - None